"Don't worry if you can't bring your leg like all the way over your head.

I can.

Of course.

But I've been doing this for... what... a couple of years now, like almost every day.

So.

We can't all be me."

... because some people have to be like you. 

You know, brittle and flabby. 

But I'll bet if you did yoga for like... a year or two... for like... all day every day... and night... you could probably be pretty close to as good as me. 

I mean, let me just say this: You'll never be as good as me because I am better than you. 

But, you know, you could try. 

That would be funny. 

And a little sad. 

But mostly like super funny.

-Yoga Frenemy

 
Pre-Baby:
"So, how are things going at work?"
"What do you think about the production design of Anna Karenina?"
"I just read the most interesting article about online dating algorithms on Slate..."
 
 
Post-Baby:
"Is that a cow? What noise does the cow make? Does the cow go moo?"
"Where is the monkey? Where is the monkey? Here he is!"
"Did you just go poopy? Did my big monster go poopy? Let's check for poopies!"
1. Ho Hey by the Lumineers

2. Sail by AWOLNATION

3. Over in the Meadow by Susie Tallman (Yes. It's a kiddie song. But it's also a moving life lesson about accepting and even rejoicing in who you are.)

4. On the Radio by Regina Spektor (an oldie but such a goodie)
Yeah, my job and your job are pretty much the same

Except when your boss asks you for something, he uses words. And if you can't make that something happen immediately, your boss doesn't typically shriek, fall on the ground, slap his own face, and need ten minutes of your soothing to calm him down again.

Your job is just like my job.

Except at your job if you start something and then your boss asks you for something else, you can probably say, "Okay, I just started this new project and I'll be done with it in ten minutes. After that, I'll start your thing." When my boss wants something he doesn't give a good God damn what I just started.

Your job is just like my job.

Except you probably aren't covered in human excrement, urine, snot, and drool at the end of your workday.

Your job is just like my job.

Except if you talk shit about your boss you're "blowing off steam," and it probably feels great to say what you really think about a person who has made your workday so miserable. If I talk shit about my boss I feel guilty for failing to empathize with a boss who has made my workday so miserable. 

Your job is just like my job.

Except that if you're bad at your job, well, it means you aren't a very good... whatever you are - banker, lawyer, fry cook, whatever. If I'm bad at my job, it means that I'm a bad person. I've probably wounded the psyche or body of someone who could not defend himself, and I can be convicted of a crime, forced into therapy, and be removed from my family.

If you get fired, you go home, get a drink, and start looking for another gig. If I get fired I'm probably in jail or rehab.

Your job is just like my job.

Except that I don't ever, ever, ever get to call in sick. Ever.

And you get to clock in and clock out. I have no clock. My workday starts at 12:00 am and ends at 11:59 pm.

Your job is just like my job.

Except the stakes at my job are another human life. And not just the live-or-die black-and-white part, but all the infinite shades of who-are-you-going-to-be and how-am-I-teaching-you-about-the-world-and-kindness-and-safety-and-self-reliance-and-self-respect, which are, in many ways, so much harder and so much more vague.

___

I didn't mean for this to be a rant or a poor-me party.

I don't mean any offense to people who work hard outside of the home, and I don't mean to say that my job is harder than yours, or my job is better or worse than yours. There are professional teachers, caregivers, doctors, nurses, personal assistants, social workers, and prison guards who can probably identify with most of what I've just described.

I just had a hard day at work with a sick Chicken, and I needed to say that my job, sometimes, is not just wearing pajamas all day and watching cartoons.

Sometimes my job is spending all day feeling sick and helpless while someone I love is sick and helpless.  It's feeling angry at myself for losing my patience with someone who really just feels like shit and lacks the vocabulary to say so like a grown-up.

Sometimes, in addition to being the best job I've ever had, it feels like the worst job anybody ever had
Pre-baby

10:30 am - wake up.
11:00 am - coffee, bagel and cream cheese in bed, watching an action movie or Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. When the movie's over, hook up with husband. Then read a book or newspaper.
2:00 pm - get out of bed.
3:00 pm - go out to late lunch, maybe tacos and margaritas or burgers and beers.
4:00 pm - see a movie that just came out a couple of days ago so you can participate in the conversation.
7:00 pm - meet up with a couple of friends for dinner and drinks, stumble across a Journey tribute band concert down the street, figure out how to get onstage for "Don't Stop Believin."
11:00 pm - return home, feed cats, fall asleep whenever the hell you want to.

Post-baby

6:00 am - wake up, feed chicken, change chicken, play with chicken
7:00 am - make breakfast and coffee, put in a load of cloth diapers to wash
8:00 am - put chicken down for nap, eat breakfast, drink coffee
8:30 am - start a movie
9:00 am - chicken wakes up. feed chicken, change chicken, play with chicken because you can't watch a movie while the baby's awake without triggering massive mom guilt and fears that in 10 years he'll be addicted to Adderall.
10:00 am - switch out laundry, hand off chicken to husband so you can pump
11:00 am - put chicken down for nap, re-start movie
11:15 am - pause movie. turn to husband. "should we hook up?"
11:16 am - re-start movie
12:45 pm - finish movie just in time for chicken to wake up. feed chicken, change chicken, play with chicken.
1:00 pm - someone needs to go to the grocery store because we are out of everything
2:00 pm -standing in checkout line at Safeway with chicken in Ergo carrier, bouncing energetically to keep him from melting down and drawing the wrath of the other 16 people in our line.
3:00 pm - put chicken down for final nap.
4:00 pm - still putting chicken down. hates that final nap.
4:10 pm - chicken finally... wait - nope, sorry, brb.
4:30 pm - do the dishes, switch out laundry. While folding laundry notice dust bunnies in corner of bedroom. Stop folding to sweep up dust bunnies. While you're sweeping you might as well hit every other room in the house. While sweeping the kitchen you notice the counter is sticky. Stop sweeping to wipe counters. The baseboards are a little dusty too.
5:30 pm - oh, right. laundry. Wait... chicken is up. feed chicken, change chicken, play with chicken.
6:00 pm - make dinner
7:00 pm - start to put chicken down for bed
8:00 pm - go into bedroom to put on pj's, discover pile of laundry from 4 hours ago still unfolded on bed. throw laundry on floor, get in bed, go to sleep immediately.
1. My son
2. My husband
3. My mom
4. My iPhone

Note to cats: You are expendable. Chill the fuck out.
1. You're being an asshole. (douchebag, doucher, and dick are also appropriate here)

2. I have to go get another diaper, so I'm just going to leave you on this changing table for like 10 seconds, so... don't roll, ok?

3. You're driving me batshit crazy, kid.

4. Here, try some of mommy's Chardonnay. A little more...


Son?

Let me tell you something.

You should never, ever be cruel or do harm to any creature smaller or weaker than you are.

Unless that creature is really bugging you.

Then you need to man up and kill it quickly.


Most kids can't speak four languages by the time they're crawling? WELL. Emerson must just be an extraordinary little girl.

Most kids won't be able throw a curve ball by age 9? WELL. Lincoln is a pretty special guy.

Most kids won't sleep through the night until they're 1? WELL. Ruby is and she's only 3 weeks old, so she's just one in a million. 


but on the other hand...


Most kids won't slowly poison their parents to death with household cleaners baked into "just because I love you mommy" cookies. WELL... Emerson's an ordinary little girl. She'll be fine.

Most kids won't be bullied so badly they develop crippling agoraphobia. WELL... Lincoln... won't either. I'm sure. He's just a regular guy.

Most kids won't develop fatal side effects from the flu shot. Like Ruby. That's a 1 in a million chance, I'm sure she won't get that.
... when another mom compliments Chicken, make sure to say something nice about her baby in return.

Something like, "Thanks! Your baby totally reminds me of Lyle Lovett!" or "What a handsome little gentle... lady? Man? Well, either way, it's VERY handsome," or "Thank you! By the way, I know a lot of parents worry about developmental delays and I just wanted you to know that I'm SURE your little girl isn't like, challenged or anything. She just looks really sleepy."
"Stop trying. Trying is so gross. Just do it."
Pre-baby:
1. Get out of shower.
2. Dry body, put on robe, wrap hair in towel.
3. Put lotion on face. Rub in lotion.
4. Go to bedroom, get dressed.

Post-baby:
1. Get out of shower.
2. Dry right arm. Notice toothpaste tube on counter is empty.
3. Throw toothpaste tube in bathroom trash, notice trash is full.
4. Remind self to finish post-shower routine. Dry left leg. Put lotion on face.
5. Notice lotion bottle is empty. Throw bottle in trash. Remember trash is full.
6. Take bathroom trash to bigger kitchen trash bin, dripping water all over floor in bathroom, living room, kitchen.
7. Return to bathroom, remind self to finish post-shower routine. Wrap hair in towel.
8. Look at face in mirror. Rub in lotion.
9.  Put on robe.
10. Go to bedroom. Somehow 20 minutes later you're only wearing underwear and a sock, but the bed is half-made, the laundry is sorted, and the pacifiers are sterilizing in the kitchen.


Top 4 Female Celebrities I Would Prefer To Never See Again And I Don't Think I'm Alone In This.
 (aka:I don't like you and my friends don't either.)

1. Kirsten Dunst (Where has she been? Color me don't care.)
2. Kristen Stewart
3. Keira Knightly
4. Zooey Deschanel (Don't even get me started on her studied adorableness. Or the singing.)

Top 4 Celebrities About Whom I Cannot Make Up My Mind Because I Can't Tell If They Are Irritating/Hostile Or Just Genuine People Who Don't Do The Whole Polished Soundbite Hollywood Scene, Which Makes Me Think That If I Became Famous And Had To Talk To Reporters I Would Probably Sound A Lot Like They Do, Which Is Either Irritating/Hostile Or Genuine.

1. Anne Hathaway
2. Jodie Foster
3. Gwyneth Paltrow
4. Russell Crowe

Top 4 Celebrities Other People Hate But I Really Have No Problem With

1. Tom Cruise
2. Nicolas Cage
3. All Things Kardashian
4. Kanye West

Top 4 Celebrities Other People Love But I'm Just Kind Of Meh.

1. Daniel Day-Lewis (doesn't it seem like he KNOWS he's awesome?)
2. Tina Fey (funny, yes. But she didn't exactly reinvent the wheel. Am I right?)
3. Kristin Wiig (not that funny really to me.)
4. Bradley Cooper

going blind from rubbing my eyes too hard at the end of the day.
... hearing someone say, "me, too" is more comforting than anything, ever.
Sometimes when my husband gets frustrated with Chicken there's a small vicious part of me that wants to say, "SEE? Do you SEE what I have to do all day, every day? And do you SEE why I need you around on weeknights and all day Saturday and Sunday? And do you SEE why taking Chicken to my parents' house for a long visit without you and basically being a full-time single parent who is on duty 24 hours a day is NOT A VACATION?? Do you need me to turn some more lights on or DO. YOU. SEE?"

(As I'm typing this post, Zemanta is suggesting that I post a link to a related article entitled "Man pleads not guilty to wife's beating death." Apparently Zemanta can sympathize with the frustrations of first-time parents struggling to accept the things they deeply miss about their childless former lives. Either that or Zemanta is warning me to shut my ungrateful mouth and make my husband a sandwich before he snaps.)

But when I do get frustrated and resentful and "I TOLD YOU SO-Y" I remember a week ago when I lay slouched over the frame of a pack'n'play, weeping over the red-faced, screaming, coiled-up knot of Chicken that did NOT want to go to sleep even though he badly needed it. Moments like that are basically the activation fee on your "I'm a parent motherfucker" card. In addition to "Mother-child weeping duet" they also accept "when the baby pees in your mouth" and "grocery store meltdown."

He held me close and told me we would be okay and this would not last forever.

And he was right.

I think about how incredibly sweet his kindness tastes.

I want him to know the relief of his partner coming into the room at 2:30 am to say, "You're off duty now. Go to sleep, my love."

The secret to a happy marriage, I once heard, is to never say "I told you so." I think another secret to a happy marriage is to show up even when you're off duty.
"If you were juiced... how would you taste? Interesting to think about... would you be as refreshing as the fresh-pressed juices by Blueberry Sunset available in our cooler at the desk? Think about it..."

They are pimping these fucking juices like the rent is due.
7:30 - chicken wakes up. feed chicken.

7:40 - chicken plays on the floor with a plastic truck. mom drinks. coffee.

8:15 - fussy chicken. feed chicken.

8:30 - turn off lights. turn on white noise. lay drowsy chicken down in crib.

8:31 - go to bedroom to make bed. grab sheet with one hand.

8:31:10 - hear binky hit the floor.

8:31:30 - return to nursery with clean binky.

8:32 - go to bedroom to make bed. pull up sheet.

8:32:40 - hear binky hit the floor.

8:32:41 - "love is patient. love is kind. love is patient. love is kind."

8:33 - return to nursery with clean binky.

8:33:10 - sit in nursery chair and watch chicken's hand extend through the crib slats, holding binky. hand turns palm-down, then opens and binky drops to the floor. chicken chuckles.

8:33:11 - "you crafty little bastard."

8:33:12 - that's it. what am i, your binky slave? i've got other shit to do. i haven't had breakfast. there's a load of laundry in the machine that has been washed four times already because by the time i can get down there to put it in the dryer it smells like low tide so i wash it again. we're having friends over for dinner tonight and the living room rug looks like a fairground after an ozzy osborne concert slash exotic pet fair. and you're dropping your binky on purpose, so you know what? this binky has cat dander and probably leprosy on it and i'm putting it in your mouth right now anyway. nope. no way in hell am i cleaning this binky again.

8:33:40 - return to nursery with clean binky.

8:34 - chicken lays head down on mattress and does not move.

8:40 - mom goes downstairs to ride the bike and read us weekly. mom exhales. finally.

8:42 - hear binky hit the floor.

8:42:01 - "what. is. this. fuckery."

8:42:10 - mom gets off bike and comes upstairs to find binky on the floor. chicken chuckles. room starts to spin.

8:43-9:00 - black out. come to and chicken is sleeping. what black magic is this?
I was putting the Chicken down for a nap.

I held him until he seemed quiet, still, and calm, and then set him down on his back in the crib. Then I sat in a chair where he couldn't see me and listened.

He kicked his fantastic double-leg I-must-stay-awake-kicks that are more like WWF leg-slams onto the mattress. The muffled thuds sounded like someone was having a pillow fight with a punching bag.

He took his binky out of his mouth and shook it, as if to say "YOU SHALL RUE THE DAY, BINKY!"

He rolled onto his tummy, grabbed the blanket, rolled onto his back so that the blanket was pulled over his face, wrestled with the blanket for a couple of seconds, and then rolled onto his tummy again and panted. "Till we meet again, BLANKET."

He cooed. He babbled. He did a baby Om, a yell without anger which sounds just like the same "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH" you might do for a hard-of-hearing dentist.

He pushed up onto his hands and knees and lunged across the crib. He'll be crawling in fewer days than I have fingers. Which is ten.

And just like that... I loved, loved, loved, loved him.

I already loved him in the way a mother loves a child. But in that moment I loved him in the way a person loves another person.

This kid is squirrely.
He's rambunctious.
He's single-minded.
He's stubborn.
He's brave.
He's tenacious.
He smiles even when he's tired.

White noise cannot tame him.

He is Chicken.

The most fearless renegade in all of Gymboree.

And he's mine.

(But seriously, kid, go to sleep.)


That I will walk into my son's nursery one day and find him playing with a live rat in his crib.
Sometimes, it's enough to just be in a room with other people who all want to be better.
I miss Blockbuster stores.

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English: A Blockbuster location in Moncton
My old friend.
OK, you're at Safeway at 11:30 pm buying a DiGiorno, a Sara Lee cheesecake with cherry topping, and a J. Roget sparkling wine. It hasn't been your day. I feel you.

You still have to wear pants.

I'm here, too. I'm buying a frozen macaroni and cheese and a slice of German Chocolate Cake. But I'm wearing pants. You know, with a button. And a zipper.

I'm also wearing shoes. With laces. You could do slip-ons or boots. You could do ballet flats or flip-flops. Really, anything with a rubber sole that was designed to be worn off the psychiatric ward will do.

You want to go home and eat your feelings, that's fine with me. I've got the same date in about 15 minutes myself. Go on home and slip on your Angry Birds pajama pants that are about 8 inches too long. Scuff around in your once-pink-but-now-kind-of-necrotic-flesh-colored slippers. You're at home. That's your right.

Right now, you're in public. You're at a store where other people are at work. The lady standing for 8 hours and saying "have a good one," when it's obvious you have not and will not? She's wearing pants. The guy bagging your nutrition-free dinner for $7 an hour? Pants. I had to put on pants to come here and stand in line behind you and compose this post in my mind. You think any of us wanted to? No. No, we did not. But we did, because that's what you do in a civilized society.

It's your responsibility to contribute to the self-respect of your community by PUTTING ON PANTS. When we stand next to you, shop at the same place you shop, we get shuffled into the same deck with you. Your fraying pajama bottoms and shitty slippers make all of us feel more shabby.

Let's make it simple. You're leaving the house, you put on pants.


Does the sun ask itself, "Am I good?
Am I worthwhile? Is there enough of me?"
No. It burns and it shines.

Does the sun ask itself,
"What does the moon think of me?
How does Mars feel about me today?"
No. It burns, it shines.

"Am I as big as suns in other galaxies?"
No. It burns. It shines

- Andrea Dworkin
Setting up my hot yoga mat among 60 other yogis and finding my 10-year-old purple-pansy Hanes bikini briefs with the holes in the elastic stuck to the front of my towel.
I was having acupuncture 10 days after Chicken was due in the hopes that stabbing him with small needles would get him to a place where he wanted a change of scenery.

So I had small needles in my feet. No problem.
Small needles in my knees. Ain't no thang.
Small needles in the webbing between my thumb and forefinger. HOLY SHIT.

English: Acupuncture needles. Deutsch: Akupunk...
Oh, goodie.
The acupuncturist assured me that this was great preparation for labor. I thought because it hurt like a motherfucker and was completely out of my control (unlike, say, wall-sits which hurt like motherfuckers but you can choose to end at any time.)

But every time I saw her fingers move toward the needle stuck in the meaty part of my hand, I envisioned what was about to happen. I knew it was going to be excruciating. How did I know? Well, it was excruciating the last time she twisted that needle. And why would it be any different now?

She said to me, "Don't anticipate."

Oh.

Okay.

I told her to fuck off (in my head) and gritted my teeth (anticipating) through the rest of the session. Then, two days later when I went into extremely rapid labor I gritted my teeth through each contraction. Every time I could feel another one coming, I had two simultaneous thoughts: "no no no no this is going to hurt so bad" versus "don't anticipate." I never did master the art of not anticipating that day. Instead I mastered the art of asking for an epidural. Is there some kind of prize I can nominate epidurals for? Like Best Medical Advancement of the 20th Century?

English: A hungry baby yelling and crying.
Sleeping like a baby.
Today when Chicken only slept for 30 minutes I spent that entire 30 minutes anticipating that he would wake up and it would be aaaawwwfuuuull trying to put him back down. Guess what? He did and it was. But I didn't get my 30 minutes of peace of mind. And every time I went to put him back in his crib and I thought. "this is going to be aaaaawfuuuuull when he starts screaming again," well, it was. But I also missed out on the moment of peace when he was quietly comforted in my arms.

So now he's down again, and I'm not anticipating. It's been 10 minutes. If he can go for an hour I'll call that a blue ribbon victory in no uncertain terms. But if he wakes up... NOW... I'm going to go in there with a peaceful heart and be in the moment.

(PS he slept for 70 minutes. That'll do, Chicken. That'll do.)
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I made a New Year's Resolution to read 12 works of fiction and 12 works of nonfiction. I'd planned to start with "Guests of the Ayatollah" by Mark Bowden. (This is a guilt read. When I saw a preview for Argo I leaned over to my husband and said 'Was that in Afghanistan? Like in "Charlie Wilson's War?' Yes, ok, I'm not exactly up to date on my mid-eastern modern history.)

But life had other plans for me.

My first book of the new year is Dr. Karp's "The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep." Guess why.

Chicken went on a sleep strike for several days and I thought I was going to lose all my hair and get a divorce. I wept in the shower and ate donuts for lunch.

Literally one day he decided to stop sleeping. His naps went from 2 hours to 30 minutes. His nights went from 9 pm - 7 am with a 4 am feed to 10:30 pm to 7 am with a 1 am, 3 am, and 5 am feed. We would rock him to sleep and lay him gently in his crib. As soon as his butt hit the mattress his eyes flew open and out of his mouth poured the most heart-wrenching wails you've ever heard in your life. Over. And over. And over again.

Karp's book helped a lot. At least last night and today it did.

The book is organized into sections by the age of your baby. The introduction covers the basics of babies and sleep; the basic needs of an infant, and how their sleep differs from adult sleep. Anyone who's read "Happiest Baby on the Block" will recognize a lot of Karp's "Fourth Trimester" lingo (namely, the 5 S's. 90% of the time they work every time.)

I skimmed Part 1, which covers newborns up to 3 months, because I was reading it on a Kindle and still can't figure out how to skip chapters. Part 2 coves sleep issues for infants from 3 to 12 months. Karp covers a variety common parent mistakes, as well as tactics to help your older baby go the fuck to sleep.

Here's the problem. Until a baby is 6 months old, you're in your very own "Survivor" competition. You do whatever it takes, wherever and whenever you can, to get the baby to sleep. Bounce. Rock. Shush. Wear him in a sling. Nurse. Sing. Hum. Drive around the block for hours. Put him to sleep in bed with you. ANYTHING GOES. Except whiskey. (wink.)

After 6 months, you must immediately stop bouncing, rocking, shushing, wearing him in a sling, nursing, singing, humming, driving, and co-sleeping. Why? Because all of these things that worked so well day and night for 6 months have actually been training your baby that the way we fall asleep is rocking/bouncing in mom and dad's arms, listening to mom and dad sing. After 6 months when the baby wakes up in the middle of the night alone in a crib, he thinks, "What the fuck! STELLLLAAAAA!"

So that's when you have to start teaching the baby how to fall asleep on his own. That way when he wakes up in the middle of the night alone in a crib he thinks, "Still in the crib? Coo. 'Night." There are all manner of ways to teach babies how to fall asleep on their own, from changing the routine you've been doing bit by bit over a period of weeks (bitch please I don't have that kind of time) to listening to the baby scream for as long as it takes while you tremble in the deepest corner of your closet.

The strategy that we settled on is called "Pick Up/Put Down." Here's how it works:

1. Put the baby in the crib
2. If the baby is asleep when you put him in the crib, wake him gently.
(PS I don't know who these people are who can move their sleeping baby from warm, soft mom-scented arms to a cold mattress that probably smells like laundry detergent even if you DO use unscented like we do.)
3. If (IF. HA.) the baby cries, pick him up and comfort him.
4. Once he quiets, put him down again.
5. Repeat 3 and 4 until the sun comes up. Or the baby rolls over and falls asleep.

The trick is to do as little as possible in step 3. Stop bouncing, humming, swaying. Do only what it takes to calm the baby down and then put him back in his crib. Then pick him up and do as little as possible to get him to stop crying. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

So far it's working. Chicken fell asleep at 8:30, woke up at 9:30, dad Picked Up/Put Down for about 30 minutes, slept from 10 to 1, dad Picked Up/Put Down for about 45 minutes, slept from about 2 to 5:45, mom fed him then Picked Up/Put Down for about 2 minutes (he was in a milk coma), slept until 9. I can't believe I just wrote this paragraph. So boring and not funny at all. Please feel free to skip this paragraph. Well, if you're reading this then it's too late. My bad. This, right here, is what ya call the literature of the new mom.


I think there's probably a Saturday morning seminar at yoga teacher boot camp about how to say super zen shit with a voice that is equal parts serene, reassuring, and quietly... surprised?

Sometimes I am totally on board:

"Yoga is not about finding a way out. Yoga is about finding... your way in?"
(mind blown)

"The question you must ask yourself is, will you meet chaos with chaos, or will you meet chaos... with calm?"
(double blown)

Sometimes I am not:

"Ask yourself who you want to be, and then ask yourself... what you want to be?"
(why stop there? What about when, where, and why I want to be?)

"Imagine there's no heaven. It's easy... if you try?"
(seriously?)

Guess which one this is?

"As you come into child's pose take a moment to calm your breathing. Imagine a goal that you've set for yourself in 2013. See yourself achieving that goal. Who's with you? Where are you? What are the smells, tastes of that goal? If you're having a hard time visualizing that, we do have freshly-squeezed organic fruit juices by Blueberry Sunset for sale at the desk in reception. Ask yourself how you can incorporate some organic fruit juices into your goals for 2013."