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  • Death On The Farm

    One of the unique advantages of growing up in certain pockets of America is that you have very little exposure to death. For millions of people in the US, the first time they witness mortality is the loss of a grandparent, or maybe a beloved pet. Unlike many parts of the world (and areas ravaged by poverty / violence here) where murder, bombs, war, famine, rampant disease, or starvation are part of a daily existence – there are those in this country who are sheltered from the brutality of untimely death.

    I wonder what it is like for all the children of the planet who have experienced or witnessed multiple violent deaths by the time most American children still can’t wipe their own ass. Does that instill upon them a greater appreciation for life? Or would so much pain make them jaded and discouraged – left wondering what is the point? Does sheltering our children from the anguish of mortality only make death more tragic when they do experience it?

    Living in the country gives The Munch a very quaint childhood. She doesn’t see homelessness, extreme scarcity, or the frayed bodies of dead humans obliterated by drone attacks. Everything around her is seemingly idyllic. As far as The Munch perceives, the world is a benevolent place filled with peace and harmony. Existence is nothing but kittens cuddling on a bed of pussy willows drinking hot chocolate through a vanilla bean straw while humming show tunes and licking clean the eyelids of sleeping babies. She has no concept of the true and brutal reality for most of humanity.

    Although as a parent you want to preserve the innocence of your child, I would be very concerned about the naivety of The Munch’s existence if we didn’t live on a farm. Yet because we are surrounded by wildlife, we witness the viciousness of nature almost every day.

    Just this summer alone, a fox murdered all 16 of our chickens. Didn’t eat them, but tore them apart and left pieces of their physiques littered throughout the lawn. The Munch would turn to me and say, “Look Mom, a chicken feather.” I would turn to see what she was talking about, and Munch would be holding an entire chicken butt – like the whole ass of a chicken – as if it were no thing.

    A week later – a fisher cat eviscerated one of our guinea hens. The Munch and I saw a pile of plumage on the grass, and The Munch’s reaction was “oh dear, one of the guinea hens got killed. Look at all the beautiful feathers.”

    When the baby turkeys come to harvest for the winter holiday season, The Munch will hold them in her hands lovingly while discussing how when they get bigger, her babysitter Lilliana along with her husband Farmer John, will cut all their heads off for Thanksgiving. For Munch all this death is natural and normal. Our cat Omega is like the American Psycho of felines, and most mornings we wake up to a half chewed mouse, or a bird with no head. Munch is totally unfazed and rationalizes this as, “Omega is so silly – she loves eating mice even though we have food for her.”

    I think because we live amongst the cycles of mother Gaia, The Munch is at least accepting of the idea of death. The other day she said she wanted a parrot, and I said we probably couldn’t get one right now because Omega would eat it, or Mona our dog would chase it.

    Munch: Okay. We will wait until Omega and Mona die – then we will get a parrot. I love my cat and dog sooooo much, but they are really old.

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    death-farm-blog-(i)

  • Perfect in Your Imperfections

    When you see a picture of yourself, what is the first thing you notice? If you see a video of you just acting like you, what do you see when staring at your own moving image? Do you think to yourself – “wow, look at that special person, way to go me!” Or do your eyes immediately gravitate to all your imperfections?

    I remember back in the day when there used to be answering machines, the sound of my own voice was more irritating than puking kittens sliding down a chalk board while a tea kettle whistled in the background and a car alarm went off. I couldn’t stand how I sounded, and it was really hard to believe that anyone could tolerate that horrendous auditory assault that came out of my face hole.

    Nowadays, it is too easy to document everything, and see exactly what people see when they look at you all day. So many pictures of myself make me think “holy fuck – that is what I look like when I am not paying attention and staring off into the cosmos? I need to shut my damn mouth and work on that weak chin of mine!” It is hard to remember that people probably aren’t as critical of you as you are of yourself because everyone is too busy thinking of themselves. But still… it is really humbling to come face to face with all the fucked up faces you make throughout any given day.

    I envy the days when it took half a lifetime of sanding sand just to make a mirror. The human mind is designed to pick a part the good and sift out negativity. We are critical by nature, and often our own harshest critics. That is probably why we envy the naivety of children so much. They live in this blissful state of not noticing or caring about the little flaws that seem so detrimental to us. A small child won’t think your tummy is pudgy, but rather see your paunch as comfy pillow. I remember loving the feeling of lying on my dad’s stomach because it was soft, and not rock hard abs jutting into my cheekbone.

    Kids are really oblivious to their own imperfections as well. They run around with chocolate on their face, their hair all fucked up, and not caring that their clothes are covered in snot stains. There is innocence to their lack of awareness. So it has been really challenging to watch how The Munch has to encounter the reality of her flaws because of her wandering eye. Everyday now Munch has to wear her eye patch, so she is forced to remember that something isn’t right about her.

    Munch: Mom I don’t want to wear the eye patch. I HATE wearing the eye patch.
    Toni: I know it isn’t easy. But you have to wear it so you don’t get surgery and the doctor doesn’t have to poke your eye.
    Munch: Will the doctor take my eyeball out?
    Toni: Uhhhh I don’t really know how it works, but it doesn’t look fun.
    Munch: I don’t want the doctor to take my eyeball out.
    Toni: Well, they would put it back in. But that is why you are wearing the patch. So your eye gets strong, and you don’t have to.
    Munch: But why do I have a lazy eye?
    Toni: Because nobody is perfect, and we all have problems.

    Sigh. Even though I know this to be true, it is just hard that she has to be aware so young. I am hoping that this means she will have a higher tolerance and acceptance of herself in the future.

    (Here is mom rocking the patch to make Munch feel better)

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  • Music Is My Boyfriend

    When I think back to my childhood and teen years, the majority of my time was spent in my room, with the door closed, listening to music. I would sing, dance, and play songs that made my cry so I could look in the mirror and watch myself cry and then cry some more because of the sight of my own tears makes me cry. It was all very tragic and emotionally fulfilling.

    Music has served as the mood regulator of my life. It is like Prozac for my soul. I can be in the most pissy state of mind – ready to slap an innocent old lady in the face with my tit – and then I get in my car, pump up the jam, and suddenly I feel amazing. Music transports me into another dimension, and relieves me from the chaos of my mind. Most cases my misery is self-induced, and a driving beat reminds me that life is a ride so I might and well shimmy my shoulders to the rhythm.

    I always have music playing in the background, and I guess this compulsion has passed on to The Munch. She now wants to spend hours a day listening to her songs. Currently we don’t exactly have the same taste, but it is still something we can do together. Munch is really into the soundtracks of The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, and Frozen. Wait… I take that back… we actually do have the same taste because those records are fucking awesome.

    I am sure she will eventually broaden her horizons from Disney movies, but right now she is committed to memorizing every word of every song of every film they ever made. There is a pretty good possibility I will be committed to a mad house before this is accomplished, so pray for me that she transitions to 90’s hip hop soon.

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  • A Culture of Consequences

    How do you motivate people to get them to do what you want? Do you give them an incentive? “Hey, come help me move and I will give you pizza, beer, and make your genitals orgasm.” Do you threaten them? “If you don’t help me move then I am going to shit in your mouth while you are sleeping.” Or do you expect them to do things because it is the “right” thing to do? “Come help me move because you are my friend and I need your assistance.”

    Philosophically we should be kind, thoughtful, and selfless all the time. We shouldn’t do things because we are seduced or emotionally manipulated – but rather out of righteousness and nobility. I want to do good things for goodness sake. Being good should be all the provocation we need to do good.

    Yeah… but people don’t always operate that way. We are all busy, or at least feel busy, and sometimes need prodding.  There is nothing like a jab in the ass to get your attention am I right?

    Theoretically I want to raise my child where she is completely driven by rationality and kindness.  I don’t want to always rely on, yelling, bribing, or arguing to get Munch to do things.  I want there to be some reasonable conversations that lead to making a collective decision about what is best.  I try to plant seeds to remind The Munch that there are consequences she should be aware of – and I am often looking out for her best interests. If you eat too much sugar, your tummy will hurt. If you don’t go to bed, you will be tired and cranky. If you don’t wash your hands after the bathroom, you will get fecal matter on them that will eventually get in your mouth. Although The Munch has an understanding that there are costs to certain actions, that doesn’t mean she always gives a shit.

    Not every request you make with your child can be a 30-minute debate. Sometimes you just want them to do something – like say brush their fucking teeth – and you don’t want to dispute why holes in your teeth is not desirable for the 400th time. There are days when I have the energy to appeal to her rational side, and there are days where I take a short cut and create a consequence if she doesn’t listen.

    Kids are not stupid and they pick up on your strategies. Even though The Munch will comply if I say “If you don’t turn off The Little Mermaid and come take a bath then I won’t let you watch the Little Mermaid anymore” that doesn’t mean she isn’t taking notes.

    Now she is starting to throw this culture of consequences back in my face. When she wants to do something and I say “no” she then creates a consequence to motivate me. Although I have to say, her threats are way more twisted and demented than mine have ever been.

    “Mom, if you don’t let me have a treat then I will rip your face off.”
    “Mom, if you don’t let me watch a movie then I will take your computer and throw it outside in the rain.”
    “Mom, if you don’t let me stay up I will stomp on your toes with my high heel shoes.”
    “Mom, if you don’t bring my baby upstairs then I will take all your clothes, put them in the toilet, and flush it.”
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  • Vanity and Beauty In The One Eyed Beholder

    We are living in an age of vanity. There are too many technological gadgets to document ourselves, and too many outlets to broadcast our glory. I mean, is there any point in looking cute if someone doesn’t capture your image for a new profile pic?

    I don’t think that technology is making us vain as much as it allows this pre-existing condition we often fall victim too. The difference is the ease to which we can connect to our vanity, and the instant gratification of people encouraging it with likes, thumbs up, and comments. It is almost impossible not to be somewhat seduced by it all.  When you are looking your best you kind of want the world to notice – or at least acknowledge a perfect hair day.

    Not that there is anything wrong with wanting to look good. Physicality does play a role in attracting people to you. If you are super smelly, look disheveled, and have plaque on your teeth coated in rotting meat residue – no one is going to want to spark up a conversation. We of course want to be somewhat presentable to instigate relationships. The problem is that if you are going to excessively care when people think you are hot, you are also going to care when they think your not. I am not just talking about having an off day wearing cargo shorts and Tevas.

    I sometimes worry about The Munch and the challenges of raising a daughter in a culture obsessed with female beauty.  Of course, The Munch isn’t exactly helping the situation with her mania towards fashion, and penchant towards all things ultra fancy and princess like. I really can’t tell where the Disney seduction ends and the awareness of prettiness begins…

    Soooooo… The Munch has a wandering eye – which although is exciting to have that kind of spirit in an organ, it is still something I have to address. I have been taking her to get cranial sacral work for about a year to try to avoid surgery. It has helped, but her eye is still like a deadbeat dad who keeps trying to take off when things get difficult. The next option is to have her wear a patch on the strong eye so she is forced to use the weaker one. To be honest I have been not only been dreading, but also avoiding this option. The Munch is SOOOOO particular about what she wears, I didn’t know if it was going to become this major battle of the wills. I can’t even get her to wear socks she doesn’t like – let alone a fucking eye patch on her face.

    I found the coolest, sparkliest, shiniest eye patches on the market – The Munch would for sure scoff at a flesh colored Band-Aid with zero pizzazz. Luckily there were some options that had a little swagger to them. I was nervous about how it would be received so I brought Munch to the chiropractor who has been helping her, and we put it on her ceremoniously.

    She actually took it pretty well. The only thing she complains about so far is his her eye getting hot and sweaty.  She doesn’t seem evenly slightly concerned about looking like a princess pirate.

    The Munch really reminded me that you don’t have to let physical “imperfections” limit your confidence, especially when you have style.

    eye-patch-blog-(i)

    July 14, 2014 • 1st time for everything, Musings • Views: 258

  • The Internal Battle Of Borrowing

    If you have a vagina, you have probably at one point in your life experienced the joy and drama of borrowing clothes from your friends. The amazing part of the lending process is when you are on the receiving end. The more challenging portion of the exchange is when you are on the giving end, because the second your friend puts on your clothes you immediately want them back.

    It is such a classic case of you don’t know what you got until it’s gone. Just the fact that someone is interested in something on the bottom of your closet floor makes it more appealing. Yet if you have already borrowed stuff from your friend, you can’t be a dick and say “Ummm actually no you can’t have that – because now I want it just because you wanted it so… sorry.” You have to suck it up and let them wear what you are now totally seduced by.

    Despite the internal chaos of the borrowing practice, it is part of the intimacy of female relationships. Now that The Munch is 4 and has a best friend, she has been initiated into this ritual. Munch and her best friend both really like princess dresses and princess gear. Hazel has very kindly let Munch borrow quite a few princess dresses, so in exchange Munch let Hazel borrow her coveted Cinderella glass slipper high heel shoes.

    Yet once Munch got home, the reality of not having her favorite shoes dawned on her. Suddenly the sorrow of loss overtook her tiny body, and she began to weep the tears of a broken doll. As much as I felt the anguish of her loss, she also had to learn that it is all part of the borrowing ceremony.

    Here we are talking about the tragedy of wanting to borrow stuff, but regretting lending the things you love.

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  • So Much Forgiveness

    People suck. They can be selfish, entitled, thoughtless, rude and the more you are around them, the greater the chance they will piss you off. In adult relationships there are many options on how to deal with asshole behavior. You can avoid the person, write a snarly text message, confront them after a few drinks when feeling belligerent, pee on their lawn, or simply resentment the person and never talk to them again. When dealing with a young child, you don’t have these options because they don’t have a yard, can’t read, and it’s frowned upon to get wasted with them. You actually have to be the mature one and lead by example.

    Children are moody daughters of dicks. (Why does that not have the same ring to it as sons of bitches?) Their emotions fluctuate like climate change induced storms and it’s hard to anticipate when they are going to fly into a fit of fury. And as quickly as kids shit in your mouth with their emotional bile, they turn around and are as sweet as cancer-causing aspartame.

    This afternoon started out with The Munch acting like a gentle creature, similar to a friendly giant on pot brownies. She was considerate, wanted to help making a sandwich, and was generally in a dreamy state of lovingness. Until she wasn’t.

    I sat down on the couch to tell Munch a story, but she wanted to be where I was sitting, and for me to sit across from her on this wooden chair.

    Munch: Mamma, move over so I and sit here and you can sit there.
    Toni: Dude, I don’t want to move over. I am already sitting here.
    Munch: But I want to sit there!! I want you to sit across from me so I can look at you!
    Toni: Well then you sit on the wooden chair. I am comfy on the couch.
    Munch: No Mamma… you sit on that chair and I want to sit on the couch!
    Toni: No way.
    Munch: Okay fine. I will put these pillows on the chair and now you can sit on it.
    Toni: I want to sit here… you can sit there.
    Munch: NO MAMMA NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WAHHHHAHHHAHHHAAAAAAHHHAAA!!! You sit there!

    Munch then cried like she was going for the Oscar, while I wondered why my kid was such a little twerp. Her whole logic was so egocentric. Did she really want me to be uncomfortable so she could live her OCD moment and frame the perfect shot for story time?

    Then I sat on the stupid wooden chair because I am a weak.

    Munch of course immediately stopped weeping and happily wanted me to tell her a story – but I was bitter at that point. Even though I could have stood my ground, I acquiesced and then begrudged her for it. Despite the fact that I wanted to pout, I couldn’t sulk because it was my own damn fault for catering to her demands. I put my big girl pants on, let it go, and moved on.

    Then later we got into an argument over treats because as you may know, I am living with a sugar addict.

    Munch: Mamma, can I have a treat. I had healthy stuff for lunch remember?
    Toni: Sure, what do you want?
    Munch: A chocolate popsicle.
    Toni: Ummmm we don’t have that. So you want a mango popsicle?
    Munch: No. A chocolate popsicle.
    Toni: I just told you we don’t have that. But I can give you some pieces of a special chocolate bar?
    Munch: Okay.
    Toni: Here you go. Four pieces because you are four years old.
    Munch: I actually want a big bar of chocolate.
    Toni: But you are already eating the pieces I gave you.
    Munch: Yeah, but I want just one big piece of chocolate bar. Not little pieces.
    Toni: Dude, you just ate all the pieces I gave you. You stuffed them in your mouth the whole time you were demanding more?
    Munch: I want a mango popsicle now.
    Toni: No way. I just gave you a delicious special treat because you didn’t want the mango popsicle.
    Munch: Waahhhhaaaa!!!!!!!!!! I WANT A MANGO POPSICLE!!

    She cried for ten minutes, threw her headband across the room, and stomped her feet while staring me in the face. This time I didn’t comply to her desires because that would be insane. The Munch had to play out her rebellion, while I managed her snarky comments.

    Munch: Mamma, if you don’t give me a treat I am going to throw you outside.
    Toni: I would like to see you try.
    Munch: Fine, then I will just spit in your face.
    Toni: Go ahead and see what happens.
    Munch: Fine. Just give me a treat then and I won’t do any of those things.
    Toni: Dude, there is no way.

    She continued to cry until she finally accepted she had lost the battle.

    Munch: Mamma, I love you so much. I’m so lucky.

    There is no way you can stay angry with someone after a proposition like that.

    Parents have these dynamics with their kids everyday, and forgiveness is an hourly affair. You both have to forgive each other constantly because there is so much tension and conflict when raising children. They want what they want because they are tyrants and parents have to keep them in check so they don’t stay that way.

    Most relationships and our larger society could benefit from this level of fluidity. If we admit we are basically are all just big babies trying to make it in this cruel world, we’ll remember that we are all always growing and evolving.

    so-much-forgiveness-blog-(i)

  • Do You Really Listen?

    It is really hard to listen to people. We hear the words that come out of face holes, but to truly listen to what someone needs is difficult. Even when we think we are paying attention to what someone is saying, it doesn’t inherently mean that we understand where they are coming from.

    Communication is the most common theme of relationship problems. We are all clouded by subjectivity, so during conversations we tend to focus on our own opinions more than the other person’s. Yet when you exist under this lens of “how do your wants affect me and my wants?” it is impossible to actually connect to the desires of the other person.

    It is challenging to clear your mind of yourself because the self is so persistently chatting in your head. The ego is as relentless as virgin at a porn convention – it just can’t get enough stimulation. The challenge then becomes how to have meaningful conversations with people where you are actually listening to each other and honoring the varying perspectives.

    As a parent it is really easy to bulldoze over your child’s wishes and ignore the substance of what they are trying to ask for. For one, the way they ask is sometimes annoying as fuck. Kids will whine/stomp/yell/cry/hit if you don’t agree with them, and their compromising skills are still being developed. Their discontent can feel tyrannical because they have no patience to explain their perspective. They also often want things that are fucking outrageous. The Munch will feel totally justified to scream and kick the floor because I won’t build her a candy house. Since kids so often approach you in this irrational hyper-emotional way, it is easy to forget that sometimes their requests are totally reasonable.

    The Munch had her birthday the other day, and she wanted to watch Cinderella while I made her breakfast. I never let her watch things in the morning, but figured it was her birthday, so why not make a special occasion. Yet while she was watching Cinderella she was thirsty and wanted some water.

    Munch: Mamma, can you get me some water?
    Toni: Sure.
    Munch: With a straw?
    Toni: Oaky fine. Here you go. But you have to drink it here in the kitchen.
    Munch: But I am watching Cinderella…
    Toni: Yeah but I don’t want you to have a cup of water next to my computer because it could spill.
    Munch: But I will be really careful. I don’t spill it.
    Toni: I know you will be careful, but accidents happen. If you spilled water on my computer you would ruin my computer and Apple care wouldn’t fix it. I can’t let take that risk. My computer is my life, as pathetic as that is.
    Munch: But Mom I am really thirsty! It is so hot outside!!!
    Toni: Well just pause Cinderella and come get water when you want it!
    Munch: But then I will just have to keep coming into the kitchen.
    Toni: Okay, I have an idea. Come. Let’s bring the water into my office, and I will pur the water here. On the table over here.
    Munch: But I still have to keep getting up!
    Toni: Dude… you have to get up, but you are in the same room?
    Munch: Mom I just want to have the water next to me!! Wahhhaaaahhhhaaaa
    Toni: Okay, you are not listening. No more Cinderella.

    I took the computer away, and of course The Munch started to cry. I felt bad because it was her birthday and hot as balls. I could understand being thirsty and not wanting to get up, but I also really didn’t want a cup of water next to my reason for living…. Uh, I mean just a meaningless piece of technology.

    Munch: Wahhhaaaahhaaaa!!
    Toni: Munch, come here. Lets have a cuddle and talk.
    Munch: Mamma, I really want to watch Cinderella.
    Toni: I hear you. But I really don’t want water that could be spilled next to my computer. It is expensive and important to me.
    Munch: But I wasn’t going to spill it and I really didn’t want to get up that many times because then I would miss Cinderella and I would get even more sweaty!
    Toni: Wait a minute…. I have a solution. We could get one of your water bottles with a straw, and then you could have the water bottle next to you, drink from a straw, but I wouldn’t have to be nervous about my computer!
    Munch: Yayyyyyy!

    The solution was obvious, but I wasn’t thinking of one because I was being narrow-minded in my own logic. I knew what I didn’t want, and that felt more important than what Munch wanted. Yet when I took a minute to really listen to her, we came up with a resolution that fit both of our needs.

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  • The Hell Of High Heel Shoes

    I do not wear high heel shoes. I am already borderline freakishly tall at 5’9” – so I have never needed an extra boost to loom over people to an even more extreme degree. Even barefoot I am taller than most, so my experience with high heels is very limited. When I do try to wear them, I walk like a NBA player in drag. It is not a good look for me.

    But I get why girls like them. They make your legs look sexy, they are sassy, and they perch up your ass like a cat in heat – but the are as uncomfortable as balls in fishnets. I just don’t think they need to be the uniform of all things feminine, and wish they were more of an accent rather than a required statement of fashion. My main issue with heels is that you are so limited in your movement when you wear them. I know Beyonce can rock out her booty banging choreography in them, but you can’t climb a mountain in Manolos.

    I guess I could just be a hater because of my inexperience. When I lived in NYC my main mode of transportation was a skateboard, so I was always sweating and wearing high-tops Adidas – not the traditional chick attire. That didn’t mean I wasn’t going to fancy nightclubs and getting my groove on – I was just like a mythical creature in flat shoes surrounded by gazelles in stilettos. All these girls would be looking hot in their fuck me pumps, but I would be in sneakers, twerking without my feet hurting.

    So as the universe would have it, of course my daughter is obsessed with high heels – BECAUSE WHY THE FUCK WOULDN’T SHE BE!!!?? The Munch has these plastic Cinderella “glass” slippers that she insists on wearing every day, for every occasion. These shoes are the bane of my existence. Every normal kid activity such as running, skipping, jumping off rocks, all are done with caution now because of these goddamn mother-fucking shoes!!!!

    It makes me so depressed because more than anything I want my daughter to be a bad ass and do physical shit. So when she is restricting her abilities because of this binding foot torture, it breaks my heart. Yet The Munch is passionately committed to her heels, as well as proving me wrong that they constrain her.

    Munch: Mamma… I can’t climb up the slide!
    Toni: That is because of those forsaken shoes Munch! I keep telling you those aren’t outside shoes! They are dress up shoes!
    Munch: But I am playing dressing up and I am playing outside!
    Toni: Yeah, but those shoes are just for dressing up inside. They suck as outdoor shoes. That is why I keep buying you other shoes to wear. So you can do all the stuff you want to do.
    Munch: I can still do the stuff I want to do!!
    Toni: Munch, no you can’t if you can’t climb up this slide. Look, take your shoes off.
    Munch: I don’t want to.
    Toni: Please just trust me. Take them off for only a minute.
    Munch: Okay, I will listen to you.
    Toni: Now climb up the slide with your bare feet…. See isn’t that so much easier?
    Munch: Yes, but I can still do it with my high heels. I am going to put them back on.
    Toni: I don’t get it! You just had such an easier time climbing with your bare feet, why would you put them back on?
    Munch: Because I like them!

    There I sat at the top of the slide, watching Munch struggle to climb up with her shitty plastic shoes on. They have no traction on the bottom, so she kept slipping, and slamming her knees. Yet she wouldn’t stop trying. At first we were laughing hysterically because it was so insanely hard for her. Then Munch got super angry that she couldn’t do it, and was basically proving my point. I will also add that I am sure I wasn’t helping by rubbing it in, reminding her just how right I was as she slithered down. So then she ran away, sulked for a while on the rock, and gave me dirty looks.

    Then, as if possessed by ambition, Munch came back with the determination of an OCD ox. And I will be damned she climbed the shit out of that slide.

    I guess if she is going to wear these stupid shoes, at least she is building her upper body strength.
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