Tuesday Tangent

Hungry Runner Girl frequently shares a Tuesday Tangent, and I’m jumping on the randomness bandwagon.

1. I had a wisdom tooth extracted yesterday. I felt a bit groggy from the twilight anesthesia (first experience with that and only my second IV; I had to get one when I went into preterm labor at 29 weeks with baby numero 4), but that’s about it. I’m kind of wishing I’d just opted for laughing gas, the cheaper option, since we don’t have dental insurance and our health insurance doesn’t cover any oral surgery, but the oral surgeon advised against it. However, the worst pain I’ve had has been in my hand from where the IV went in; my mouth feels super-duper. Prior to the procedure, I was honestly looking forward to a vacay and just being out of it and confined to the bed with a good book, but I feel pretty much normal. My 9-year-old caught me doing push-ups this morning and said, “Daddy said you weren’t supposed to exercise yet.”

“I know, I know,” I said. “I am feeling fidgety.”

This comes from the same person whose Dad caught her doing the Health Rider when she had a pretty severe case of mono her senior year of high school (liver was affected, I became jaundiced, spleen was enlarged, etc.).

“You’re grounded!” he shouted.

“I already feel like I am grounded!” I snapped back. It’s true I’d been confined to my room for about a month, doctor’s orders. (My parents never actually grounded me during my lifetime under their roof.)

My dad dragged the Health Rider to the basement. The next day he told me he’d had a dream (nightmare?) that he found my bed empty and ran over to the park across the street from our house to discover a glowing Katie (I really was quite yellow from the jaundice) running in the park. I realized then that he really was worried, and I needed to rest for his sake if not for mine.

Flash forward almost a decade, and my oldest child tsks, tsks me for ding push-ups. I’ve always been a stubborn one, and I wonder why my offspring can be so darn tenacious.

2. Last night I did treat myself to what I thought was simply a chick flick but ended up being much more. Do watch About Time if you haven’t already. Don’t let the whole “time traveling” thing stop you. This movie has heart and delivers an important message about how we really ought to live every day like we’ve already lived it because then maybe we’d do a better job at giving our best, noticing the person in front of us (the grocery clerk, the Starbucks barista, the child tugging at our clothes, the spouse lying beside us in bed), taking ourselves and life less seriously, and just being kind. I was weeping at the end of the film, but they were happy, grateful tears. I also happen to love Rachel McAdams, who stars in the movie, although actor Bill Nighy steals the show. You know when you like an actress and you just feel like she seems like a nice, down-to-earth person? Well, that’s how I’ve always felt about Rachel McAdams, and it turns out she is actually a quite likable person in real life. My uncle (one of my dad’s brothers) is an actor – John Pankow – and he was in Morning Glory with her and told me she was super friendly, lovely, and not pretentious at all. I’m glad I’m such a good judge of Hollywood actors’ characters.

3. I’ve been trying to eat a relatively clean diet lately, although I still do imbibe occasionally, love my morning cup of joe, and like me some chocolate every once in awhile. I recently tried this delicious Four Ingredient Protein Pudding recipe, and I highly recommend it. Yum!

4. Last night I realized that maybe two of my little girls (ages 7 and 5) had been a little scared about Mama’s “surgery” (I hesitate to even refer to it as that since it was so minor, and I feel so great). They were asking where they would go if something happened to me. I told them Daddy would take care of them, but that the chances of that happening were very small. They then asked what would happen if something happened to Daddy and me. I told them they would go live with Uncle Josh (my brother) and Aunt Megan but that, again, this probably would never ever happen.

With Ellyn [their new baby cousin]?” 7-year-old Rachel asked.

“Yes, with Ellyn,” I said.

Five-year-old Mary Elizabeth then gasped happily and said, “Really?”

So much for missing Mom and Dad.

Rachel then started asking big questions about how I’d feel without the kids. “You’d probably have the time of your lives,” said my melancholic.

“No way,” I said. “My life would be awful without you.”

“But,” she argued, “it would be a lot more peaceful.” So maybe there has been some more sibling head-bopping lately, but I’ll take the chaos and craziness over having a quiet house and an empty heart.

5. Well, I had more to ramble about, but kids are hungry (actually, they’re more “hangry” than hungry. Some more head-bopping is going down.).

Me, myself, & my hamstring

I recently deleted Sitemeter from this website. A funny error related to it kept popping up, and I never check my stats any longer and don’t use this website to make loads of moula (but if anyone wants to send me a check to subsidize further sporadic, ridiculously long and meandering blog posts, go right ahead), so it just made sense. However, I decided to check one last time to see how people end up here, and it seems “Kate Wicker + hamstring” is a very popular search. It’s number one right now in fact, followed by searches like “Kate Wicker Catholic,” “Kate Wicker + nursing a toddler,” “Kate Wicker + body image + eating disorder,” “Kate Wicker + natural childbirth,” and “Kate Wicker loves eradicating hazardous waste from her home.”

I made the last one up.

Honestly, I’ve been trying to refrain from writing about my stupid hamstring and jalopy of a body for myriad reasons. First, I figured no one really cared to endure my whining and that anyone who isn’t a runner wouldn’t understand why on earth someone would be depressed about not being able to wake up at 5 am and run for miles and train for races that might lead to toenails falling off. Second, once upon a time this blog was simply about mothering, my faith (or lack thereof), and body image, so its target audience isn’t necessarily all that interested in a chronic running injury. Finally, I have a remarkable talent for ruminating endlessly about my hamstring and how frustrated I am, and it’s easy to get sucked into a black hole of negativity.

But here’s a the-glass-is-half-full kind of thought for you: Due to not running much at all this spring, my feet are looking prettier than ever, and I actually wasn’t embarrassed to get a pedicure a few weeks ago.

Pollyanna, eat your heart out!

On the other hand, now that I know that quite a few people are actually seeking me out to find out about my hammy, I’m all for prattling on about it and for pondering the bigger lessons that can be gleaned from a persistent injury.

High hamstring tendinopathy is a very stubborn injury, and there’s not a lot of research-backed treatment protocols. A lot of medical professionals aren’t really sure how to approach healing, or they have different theories as to why it happened and what will make it better. So a lot of sad, injured, and desperate runners seek out Dr. Google. I know I have done this more times than I’d like to admit.

{“Mommy, are you reading about your hamstring again?”

“Um, maybe.”

“You’re obsessed.”

No comment.}

In the online world of blogs, medical websites, running forums, etc. you’ll uncover some success stories but far more lamentations about how a runner has been trying to overcome this injury for years. Lest you think I am a pathetic freak of nature, complete hypochondriac, or just an obsessed weirdo as my 9-year-old seems to think, I stumbled across one blog that is about one topic and one topic only: an injured runner’s high hamstring tendinopathy. Yes, the blog is actually entitled “High Hamstring Tendinopathy: A Real B#$*@ [rhymes with witch], My Struggle to Recover and Maintain Sanity” (good news: She did eventually overcome the injury!).

If you’re anything like this blogger or me, in your desperation, you may even find yourself emailing and over-sharing to some stranger Dr. Google led you to who is running again and seems to have overcome high hamstring tendinopathy (yes, I did that, too), and the person kindly responds and offers her insight, but sadly you’ve tried most of the things she suggests.

Let’s see what exactly have I tried to get better? Here’s just a smattering (I’ve done a few other things as well):

  • Dry needling – AKA warmly accepting long-ish needles to be poked into my skin just below my butt cheeks multiple times. I also allowed said needles to be poked into my hip area and back and once in my Achilles’ tendon area. Usually, it produces only mild discomfort, but for some reason one particular treatment in the hamstring area caused me to break out in a sweat not because I was hot but because the pain was pretty darn intense.
  • Cold laser therapy – I only tried this once because it was not covered under customary physical therapy treatments, and I’ve already spent a small fortune on trying to beat this injury. Maybe this would have been my magical cure!
  • Acupuncture – Different than dry needling but also involves needles; not painful much at all, but it didn’t seem to help much either.
  • A cortisone patch on the injured area – no lasting relief
  • An anti-inflammatory cream applied to my hamstring and hip area four times a day – maybe helped my hip area a tiny, tiny bit but not the hamstring
  • Icing and heat – ice provides temporary relief; just numbs/masks the pain
  • Extracorporeal shockwave therapy – never really noticed significant improvement, but I never morphed into Frankenstein, so that’s good.
  • Active release therapy (ART) – a special kind of massage and by special I mean torturous. My wonderful ART therapist, who really was compassionate and seemed to care about my hammy and me, asked me at one point if I was sure I was okay. I told her yes. She then told me most men would be crying like a baby by now. Sorry, male readers, there’s a reason women give birth. Initially, I thought this was an answer to my prayer because I would feel significantly better after each treatment, but it wasn’t cheap and I had to pay out of pocket for each session, and the pain would always return in a few days post-treatment. The therapist was wonderful because she told me I needed to pursue other options because she wasn’t able to provide a more permanent relief to the pain.
  • Cupping – This is part of the practice of acupuncture and involves creating strong suction on the skin near the injured area with “cups” and is believed to encourage blood flow and promote healing. Note to self: Don’t try to get ART and cupping done on the same day right before you head to the beach. Your bum and thigh area will be polka-dotted with bruises. Lovely. I didn’t notice much improvement after this – maybe a little.
  • Scraping or Graston – From The Graston Technique website: Graston is an “innovative, patented form of instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilzation that enables clinicians to effectively break down scar tissue and fascial restrictions.” A friend who had similar injuries as I did (although she never had an actual fraying of the high hamstring as I did) swore by Graston, so I decided to give it a try. I was warned that it would be very painful, but it really wasn’t too bad for me. I feel like it really helped at first, but the pain just took a few days to rear its ugly head again.
  • Loads of rehab exercises my physical therapist provided me with, including core, glute, and eccentric hamstring exercises.

I know. This is a little ridiculous. It’s not as if I’m pining for an Olympic medal. I just want to run again – and walk again! – without pain! It would be nice to be able to sit without a bum ache, too.

Now here’s what I haven’ tried yet: Cortisone injections to the site, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) or prolotherapy injections, and obviously surgery. I am very interested in hearing from anyone who has suffered from a partial tear of the high hamstring and/or high hamstring tendiopathy and what has or hasn’t worked to facilitate healing. Every person and every body is different, but I am very proactive (or obsessed as my 9-year-old says!) about researching my options and exploring further treatment. This coming week is a big one for me. I am getting a wisdom tooth cut out that decided to pop out when I’m nearing 40 instead of when I was a teenager. I’d call myself a late bloomer except the oral surgeon commented on the fact that I had “significant” arthritis in my jaw for someone my age. He asked me if my jaw hurt. “Only my hamstring and iliac crest,” I replied.

Okay, so maybe I am a little obsessed.

After the wisdom tooth exits the premises, I have an appointment in the big city with a sports medicine doctor who specializes in overuse injuries and ultrasound-guided PRP injections. I am hopeful!

The bottom line (pun intended since it is my bottom that aches all of the time): I still hurt, especially when I sit for too long, which is yet another reason this blog (and my novel) have been sorely neglected. If I sit for more than 10 minutes, I start to ache and have to lift my left butt cheek to the side, and it starts to look like I am a fan of flagrantly emitting flatulence.

There have been several points when I’ve felt like I could run again and have attempted to slowly ease back into running, only to experience a return of pain. What’s worse, is one day I was out for a slow walk/run when, lo and behold, my left hamstring wasn’t hurting, but the area above my left iliac crest started to ache and then became so painful I could barely walk home. I went to a doctor for the pain, and x-rays showed no fracture, but they did reveal that the right side of my pelvis was significantly higher – something others have told me and I also suspected since my shorts always ride up on the right side, and I’ve felt a little lopsided for as long as I can remember. So I was referred to spine specialist who asked me if I’d ever been in an accident or taken a fall from a high place. That would be an affirmative. Before the risk part of my brain was developed, I found it exhilarating to hop on wild horses and see if and how long I could stay on. I took multiple falls when I was younger, and this physical therapist believes that these shifted my tail bone and pelvis so that it’s now pulling on the hamstring and other muscles and tendons of my left leg. Basically, he said I’ve been like a car logging miles with my wheels out of alignment. It doesn’t matter how strong I am or how few miles I run or how slowly I cover them, I am going to get injured. This makes a lot of sense to me, and I am hopeful that we are finally arriving at the root of the problem and that the new doctor I see next week will agree and will be able to offer further insight as to how to get me better and out running again.

And, truthfully, it’s not the running that has hobbled me! It’s not even the fact that I might have over-trained a bit, not properly fueled my body given the miles I was running last summer and fall, or am a weakling. It’s just that my muscles aren’t working properly because my pelvis is all out of whack. Running doesn’t injure people, but running the wrong way – whether it’s because of a crooked pelvis, over-training, or covering miles in the wrong shoes – most certainly does.

One sports medicine doctor suggested I might make a good triatholon athlete, so my dear husband bought me an amazing bike that I can’t ride now because my hip hurts. I’ve had a lot of medical professionals tell me I just need to take it easy and be patient. Well, I’m approaching the 9-month mark since my injury and have only ran a handful of miles at a ridiculously slow pace when I once was running 30 to 40 miles every week. Walking and sitting causes pain, so this is no longer about running, and resting is not the antidote to it either.

Thankfully, a doctor also gave me a vote of confidence and said, “We’re not ready to retire you to the pasture yet.”

Wow, you really know how to build a girl up.

I shouldn’t be snarky. I am so thankful for all those who have tried to figure out why I hurt and how I can get better, and I am also extremely grateful that I have the resources to obtain medical care. I know this a pitifully small cross to shoulder compared to what so many others have to deal with, but it hasn’t been easy and based on all those search engine entries involving my hammy it appears that there are others frustrated with high hamstring tendinopathy and hoping that maybe I’ve discovered a magical cure and am back running.

I haven’t (yet!), but I have learned a great deal through this experience. First off, I’m not in control. I can religiously perform my rehab exercises. I can keep seeking out medical professionals who will help me to get to the bottom of things. I can cry, rant, and pray for my pitiful hamstring. But I can’t make it all better. Nor can I get angry at professionals who can’t make it better. I can, however, will myself to be grateful for all the good in my life as well as to cling to the hope that I’ll overcome this. I asked my husband the other day if he thought I’d ever be able to run and let alone walk without pain. “I do,” he said.

“What about Boston? Do you think I’ll run Boston someday?”

“I do,” he said. “I really do.”

God love him.

I’ve also learned that body image issues aren’t just about how your body looks. Sometimes you start to hate your body because of how it performs and because it can’t do what you want it to do. I remember when I wrote the aging chapter for Weightless, I felt very unqualified to ponder things like wrinkles. I couldn’t imagine being upset about aging. I’d only be thankful that I was still around and among the living with my friends and family. I wrote the book about five years ago, and in five short years I have abruptly become aware of my mortality. My body is not working like it used to. My pelvis has been crooked for a long time, but it used to not bother me. I have noticed the lines forming on my expressive face. I pulled out my first gray hair right around my birthday this year. I am inching very close to my fourth decade.

I told my husband I desperately wanted to be pregnant again because at least I’m good at growing babies and delivering them into the world. My midwife once remarked, “My dear, you were made to have babies.” As if that’s something I can really take credit for, though. That’s just a blessing I have. My body happens to labor very well (pregnancy not so much). As if it’s my fault that my high hamstring won’t heal. Clearly, these thoughts are further evidence of my control and pride issues.

Currently, I am working to make peace with my body – not because I’m unhappy with what I see in the reflection in the mirror so much, although not being able to exercise for mind, body, and spirit as much as I’d like hasn’t been easy – but because I’ve had to accept my body and to love it for its natural design, its limitations, and to not be so focused on my current age – or the fact that it can’t perform like I think it should – but on the age to come.

When I’ve become really down and frustrated with my inability to heal and my new aches and pains or increasingly creased face, I tell myself to shift the focus off myself. That’s something I wrote about in the Weightless aging chapter and got right.

Hey, Katie, take care of that amazing husband of yours who could care less how fast you are or how wrinkly you become (you’re growing older together!). Cuddle with those children who think you have the strongest arms in the world. Think of how that sweet 2-year-old boy says almost daily, “Mommy, you’re pretty,” because to him you’re the most beautiful woman alive right now. Be grateful for all of your friends who love you for you, not because of any of your accomplishments or how fit you are. Think of your running pal who walks beside you now and would do anything for you and will be your true friend whether you ever run another mile again in your life. Imagine your mom with ice packs on her burning face, whose eyes feel like they might pop out of her face sometimes, who has a debilitating disease that is frequently referred to as the suicide disease because its intense and painful symptoms can usually only be managed and right now can’t be managed very well for your sweet mama but will never be cured. She is a suffering servant. She has been for several years now. She chooses to see the blessings in her life instead of wallowing in pity and cursing her body and her fate. She knows that she is more than her pain.

You’re more than your hamstring. You’re more than a runner.

These are some of the lessons you’ve had to learn and perhaps because of them someday someone will end up on this little corner of cyberspace because they searched for “Kate Wicker + thy will be done.”

7th Heaven

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Dear Rachel,

Happy 7th birthday! As Madeline is fond of writing in kids’ birthday cards these days, seven is such a big number. Indeed it is. Where did our Baby Rae run off to?

My sweet Rachel, you are growing into such a lovely, little lady. You just ran into my bedroom with a tower of books stacked in your arms and are repositioning pillows on my bed as I type your birthday letter (a few days late, mind you, such is life these days).

“Whew! That was hard work,” you say, heaving the books onto the bed.

You’re preparing to engage in a few of your very favorite activities: Reading, savoring silence, and cuddling beside me. I love our quiet time together. It’s a rare gift these days since we’re always so busy and because I often find my only quiet time to involve me attempting to cajole Thomas to be still for at least 30 minutes. But when we are able carve out a corner of calm together, it is always special.

You’re very good at slowing down, being still, and finding contentment in just being rather than doing. I love that (as well as many other things!) about you!

I love your sensitive soul – how your eyes fill with tears when you think someone else has been wounded – even if that someone else is a cartoon character. There’s a scene in Despicable Me 2 in which Gru has a flashback where a girl he planned to give a flower to spurns him, and upon watching it you had to blink away the tears.

“It makes me sad, too,” I told you.

But you became embarrassed and refused to admit the scene had stirred so much empathy in you. You do that quite often. I’ll notice that you’re on the brink of crying, reach out to comfort you, and you’ll brush me aside. “My eyes are just watering,” you’ll insist. Yes, sometimes you want to keep your big feelings to yourself, and I need to learn to respect that and give you your space.

However, other times you’re an effusion of emotion. When you’re happy, you’re gleeful, although just because you aren’t always all grins doesn’t mean you’re not happy. Recently, you remarked, “People think I’m not happy because I don’t smile all of the time, but that’s not true.”

Your Daddy nodded. “I’m the same way.”

But there’s no mistaking it when you think something is funny. When you laugh, you burst into infectious giggles and we can’t help but join in. You also happen to have a great sense of humor and regularly make me laugh with your jokes and witty and spot-on observations about life.

When you’re angry, you share your mama’s passion, and people better watch out and just leave you alone. You’re so full of fervency and feeling. You’re going to experience life in Technicolor because of that.

Of course, I fear you’ll also experience heartaches more deeply than others (um, like someone else I know), but I’ll understand because I am the same way. Don’t you worry. But let’s not think about all that right now. Currently and quite fortunately, the worst pain you generally experience is hurt feelings (you are sensitive, so you do sometimes sweat the small stuff as they say) and an ache or two when Thomas unleashes his inner Todzilla, or you and one of your sisters engage in a girl fight. (Your extroverted siblings need to learn to respect your reserved nature, and you, my dear, need to learn to cut them some slack when they don’t.)

Now let’s talk about your current interests. Turquoise or aqua (you go back and forth) are your favorite colors. You’ve been asking to take gymnastics, so we finally agreed and I am so proud of how hard you work at class. Even though it’s a beginner’s class, all the other girls can do cartwheels, etc. and have clearly been at it for longer than you, but that doesn’t keep you from going out there and giving your best. You and I are a lot of like in many ways, but I know I sadly would have wanted to quit if I saw that others could do more than I could. That’s probably why I never learned to do a cartwheel. But not you. You’re having fun and seem to have embraced the challenge. You don’t compare yourself to others in the class. You’re only focused on your own skill development. That makes me so very proud.

You are a real bookworm and won the “Top Reader” award for the first grade this past spring. You’re still reading beside me, in fact. When you go MIA, I can usually find you curled up in a bed somewhere with a book. You’re an early bird and seem to have trouble sleeping in even when you’re up past your bedtime (I can relate!).

You love animals and frequently give Layla [our dog] belly rubs. You want to be a vet when you grow up. You have an ear for music and have taught yourself a few songs on the piano. We hope to get you enrolled in piano lessons soon. Your face is dusted with freckles, and I always tell you a face without freckles is like a sky without stars, and you smile ever so shyly.

You like to draw, but you’re always anxious that your work isn’t good enough. Think of gymnastics and how you just focus on what you’re working on and do your best. Keep drawing. Art is very subjective any way, and I love your doodles of cats and flowers.

You’re in the process of constructing an elaborate fairy house beneath our Japanese Maple. The dwelling already boasts a swing, a slide, a bed laden with flower petals, and a long table adorned with a bowl (half a pecan shell from our pecan tree) filled with peas (tiny green seeds you foraged from the yard).

You love horses and you just told me that you wished Daddy wasn’t a doctor [who sees injuries from horseback riding frequently] so he would let you ride more often. You do have a horse camp coming up in July, and you can’t wait.

You’re a carnivore and love to eat Daddy’s ribs. You also love shrimp. You’re not as in to traditional cake, so we made a big batch of blondies for your family birthday and then snowmen Oreo and pudding cakes for your birthday party with friends (you tasted the cake and said it was the best ever, but aesthetically Daddy and I felt like it would make a good Pinterest fail. Whatever. Cake is for eating.)

You’re very in to Frozen (along with every other little girl) right now, and one of my favorite things to watch is to see you sing (and act out!) “In Summer.” You make an adorable Olaf. You wanted a Frozen birthday party with your friends. We typically do small scale, family parties around here but when I tried to encourage you to do this, your eyes filled with tears. “I want a friend party,” you said.

I agreed but said we would demand that no presents be bought (after a big purge this spring, the last thing we needed is 15 or so more toys to infiltrate our home). “That’s fine!” you quickly agreed. “I just want to see my friends.”

It was so lovely to watch how your friends adore you and how you’re so sweet to them all. You’re quiet, but not too quiet, and your face was beaming the entire party. Friends were constantly showering you with hugs and calling your name. “Rachel! Rachel!”

One friend didn’t know any of the other girls, and you went out of your way to make sure she was included. At one point, I rushed back into the kitchen because one of our guests needed something else, and you came in and said, “Mommy, I know this is a lot of work for you.”

Oh, Rachel, what 7-year-old has the presence of mind to notice that her mom is working hard during her own birthday party? You’re the same child who writes me the most beautiful “just because” notes and really seems to appreciate when I do the same for you. I think I’ve found my “words of affirmation” bosom buddy.

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Like me, you also seem to need more affirmation – in whatever form – than the average person, and anything remotely negative seems to weigh on you.

Well, let me tell you this, and then it’s your job to believe it: I love you just the way you are! You are a kind, funny, sweet, beautiful, clever, determined, sensitive, lovely, young lady, and I love being with you and watching you grow. Don’t let anyone – especially your own self – convince you of anything otherwise. Like your first grade teacher told me this year, God has great plans for you.

Happy, happy birthday, my beautiful Rae-Rae! I am so honored to be your mom!


Mommy (you recently decided you were going to start calling me Mom, but you have forgotten and keep calling out, “Mommy.” I’m glad. ;-))

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You enjoyed a “pin the carrot nose on Olaf” game at your party. Madeline drew Olaf for you.

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We served lots of Frozen-themed food like Sven’s carrots, Olaf’s summer flowers, and a blue snowball punch.

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Okay, so this is probably the worst cake I’ve ever made. The Snowman looks like he’s ready to eat small children. Madeline said, “That’s definitely not your best work,” and Daddy said I should share a picture of Psycho Snowman on a Pinterest-fail website. Fortunately, you took one bite of the Oreo-cookie-pudding-cake and said, “This is the best cake ever.” Thank you, sweet girl.

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We had a snowman-making contest, using toilet paper and streamers. This was a big hit.

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Your mom can’t stop coloring. It’s kind of her therapy since she’s suffering from injured runner’s affective disorder. icon smile 7th Heaven Thanks for being born, so I have a good excuse to make lots of colorful signs.

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