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“Use it or lose it” they said.  I rolled over vacation time last year to this one and it’s timing out so .. with that .. I’m on vacation this week — and following the “no plan-plan.”

Purposeful nothingness.

Reading.

Sunshine.

Iced Tea.

Flip flops.

Farmer’s Market.

Pedicure.

Reading.

Phone chats with siblings and cousins.

Music.

Firing up the grill.

Shutting down the laptop.

Reading.

Naps.

A stretch of days with nothing to do and all day to do it.

You can get old pretty young if you don’t take care of yourself.

I’m feeling younger by the minute!  🙂

When’s the last time you checked out? Have you ever had a week of “purposeful nothingness?”

 

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Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Confidence at any age, Faith, Food, Gratitude, Growth, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Personal, Quotes, Relationships, Seasons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Slow down Summer

Arriving home Friday night, the air was heavy with moisture and the threat of a summer shower  – the humidity/heat index hovered in the triple digits.  Hubbs, naturally slender, smiled at finally being warm.  His movements were easy, mine not so much.   I rushed in with groceries, wiping the sweat from my neck, and stayed inside to cool down in the air-conditioning.

After a shower and with my hair up, I re-joined him on the patio for an iced-cold beer and one of our typical meandering Friday night conversations.

The two of us spoke longingly of our upcoming summer vacation – remembering summers of our past, some spent together, some before we met.

We both remembered that first slice of watermelon, sitting on Grandma’s front steps and a shared childhood memory of Root Beer floats, burnt hot dogs and someone’s homemade pie.

We recalled wienie roasts with cousins, sleepovers, marshmallows cooked too long, and the crackle of the fire against the quiet of a dark summer night.

We reminisced about when our boys were little, how we spent summer days with Super Soakers, sprinkler hoses and water balloons and unbridled fun.

We remembered cookouts with Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles, with hordes of cousins to play with and the best food we’d ever eaten – Taco Salad, baked beans, fried chicken, burgers off the grill, lemonade, Rhubarb, Cherry and Saskatoon pie.  We talked about an older brother backing his car into the yard and opening the trunk to crank up the tunes – Led Zeppelin, Al Green or the Beatles.  We remembered some adults sipping beer from short brown bottles and Great Uncles playing Horseshoes and ladies fanning themselves against the summer warmth.    We remembered the prickly feel of lawn chairs against our sun-burnt thighs and the cozy happiness we felt being tucked into bed after such a rapturous day.

Summers were magical when we were kids – days were longer – parents were lenient – it was like everyone all knew this couldn’t – wouldn’t last.

Summer is here. Please last a little while longer.

 

Summertime, I think, is a collective unconscious. We all remember the notes that made up the song of the ice cream man; we all know what it feels like to brand our thighs on a playground slide that’s heated up like a knife in a fire; we all have lain on our backs with our eyes closed and our hearts beating across the surface of our lids, hoping that this day will stretch just a little longer than the last one, when in fact it’s all going in the other direction.”
― Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper

 

Care to share your favorite summer memories?  Did your elders send you outside to eat watermelon or iced cream, too?

That’s me on Dad’s knee – An Emjayandthem (C) photo

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Family, Food, Fun, Growth, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Personal, Quotes, Seasons, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Random 5 – Conference calls, folding chairs and Hey Macarena !

I regularly think of random things.  That’s how this brain works – – in the car, at night, during conference calls …   Too much swirling around to stop randomly weird things from popping in & making themselves at home.

1 )  Weekends .. when I have no deadlines and no reasons not to sleep in .. I don’t.  Nope.  I’m awake early, rolling around, flipping/flopping till finally I just fling the blankets off and stomp to the coffee pot ~  I see the early clock and sigh because this is the stuff weekday dreams are made of … but no, not me.  I’m up.  Up!

2 ) I read this quote recently and claimed it:

I hope to arrive at my death, late, in love, and a little drunk.  ~Atticus

well if that doesn’t say it all!

3 ) Three weeks ago I went shopping for a reclining beach chair – the kind you can use in your backyard or at the beach (the one I never go to unless company is in town).  So I set it up in on the patio, stack my books and an Arnie Palmer then haul out 75+ sun block, a fly swatter & a water spray bottle.  I lay down a towel and carefully climb on in ~ instantly the thing folds and I am trapped in it like a finger in a clam shell.  What the?  I carefully get out, adjust the settings and give it another go.  Klang – I’m folded up in the stupid thing like yesterday’s burrito.   Hubbs, leaving for golf, steps out to find me tangled up and sputtering.  He gently asks if all is well?  I smile, say nothing, and stomp past him with the folded chair over my shoulder and proceed to hoist it into the trash, stomp back, drag two patio chairs together and affix myself between them.  He smiles and waves good-bye (smart man).    Yesterday I went looking look for a replacement — well now that SCHOOL SUPPLIES are out …….. the 2-3 beach chairs left have been relegated to the back corner with the 50%-off garden supplies.  It’s mid July.  What happened?

the crappy one was like this but not as nice

4 )  They tend to come in cycles but lately there’s been an influx of annoying recorded spam phone calls to our house phone — “Hi! This is Tiffany from blah-blah-blah services” (insert the words travel, credit card, rewards, cruise ship where I had the words blah-blah-blah).   I like to answer and, while the recording is going start talking gibberish.  Calls end abruptly and my stress wanes. Highly recommend it.  🙂

5 )  We’re about to start a months-long project and with it comes weekly check-in calls ~ time to break out the  Bingo card:

How about you?  What have you shopped for lately that was suddenly “out of season?”  Notice an influx of spam phone calls?  Ever play conference call Bingo?

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Fun, Growth, Home, Humor, Quotes, Seasons, Self Discovery | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Summertime Sundays

Summertime Sundays often find me alone in the house ~ with good intentions but few accomplishments.

I wake when I wake, no alarms, just quiet.

The house is cool and calm .. Hubbs has slipped off to golf before my eyes ever opened.  The woof-woof-woof of the sprinkler thumps in the background.  He set it up “just so” with a note asking that I check on it and turn it off soon. I will and I do.

I pour a coffee and wander throughout the house, thinking about the day, the week, my life.

Laundry is done, leftovers are in the fridge and I have no particular place to be.  My chair calls, I can feel the stack of books and magazines pulling me closer.  My mind drifts to work – there’s a tiny inclination to turn on my company laptop and check to see which project is on fire today – but the inclination soon passes.  Monday, and all the breathless anxiety it brings with it, will be here soon enough.

I’ve grown fiercely protective of weekends over the past few years — during the week, the days blend into night, calls and projects come in at any time, and boundaries are shrinking.  Now I guard my Sundays like a child guards their money.

Sunday finds me cooking, reading, singing, blogging, resting, putzing, dreaming, talking and, most of all, living.  And I’m getting really good at Introvert Bingo.

 

“SUNDAY  – The day..I planned a lot but actually do nothing.”
― Lovely Goyal, I Love the Way You Love Me

 

How about you? Do you ever plan to do absolutely nothing?  Have you found yourself wandering through the house, looking at your list of stuff to do, but doing none of them?  How good are you at giving yourself a day off?

 

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Determination, Family, Home, Joy, Life, Opinion, Personal, Quotes, Relationships, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Wisdom, Women, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

32 and 9 and still new

32 years ago I immigrated to the United States with $178 and a guitar.

9 years ago I stepped forward with 78 others to take the Oath of Citizenship.

It was one of the proudest and most emotional  moments of my life.

(more about my journey here.)

You see, someday I will be a citizen for 15 or 20 or 35 years and I’ll still choose to tell folks that I’m a “new” citizen.

Why?

Because I don’t know how else to communicate the significance of it.    The choice of it.

We’re not perfect, this country, we’ve got our flaws.  Like most families, there’s bickering and divisions and  always someone willing to point out what’s wrong with us … but still … there’s a heart and soul about America that continues to inspire people to imagine a life here.

* * * *

God Bless America, Land that I love

Stand beside her,  and guide her

Thru the night with a light from above

From the mountains..to the prairies

To the oceans..White with foam

God Bless America!

    My Home Sweet Home

Happy birthday, America …. from a grateful citizen.

 

Related:

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Kisses, smiles and summertime

Summer just started and * gasp * it’s already scheduled  … I have too many vacation hours and must use “it or lose it” (not happening).  Not a terrible problem to have I know so, for that reason, I’m booking off soon to enjoy a summer  that looks like this:

“It’s a smile, it’s a kiss, it’s a sip of wine … it’s summertime!”  ― Kenny Chesney

 

 What’s your summer looking like? 

 

 

Categories: Attitude, Determination, Faith, Family, Food, Fun, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, music, Opinion, Personal, Quotes, Romance, Seasons, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Random 5 – Sisters, Books and Summer’s arrival

It’s Sunday! Back to work tomorrow ~Cooking, Laundry and random 5 today. Here goes!

1 )  My sister and I vacationed together last week ~ she lives in Canada, where we grew up, I live in the USA so – instead of traveling to each other’s homes – we met in the middle – something new for both of us.  No cooking. No cleaning. No bed-making.  No organizing. No wrangling. No Scheduling.  We loosely followed the “no plan-plan.”   Meeting in Minneapolis then flying to Kansas City together we laughed and we cried and we laughed again.  Navigating the rental car through the city and down to the interstate to Branson, MO, we sang along and talked and talked.  We had purchased a few show tickets ahead of time but left the week open to the possibilities.  Lying by the pool. Shopping in cute little boutiques, artisan markets and outlet malls.  Dining out, being waited on and, in some cases, sung to (the Singing Diner was so fun!)  Our trip was glorious!  Sister time – talking in the morning, talking at night, talking by the pool, talking in the dark.   On our last night together, out of the dark a small voice whispered,”I’m sure going to miss you, you know.”  “I know,” I said, “as will I miss you.”    A knowing look – finishing each others sentences – laughing at our stupid jokes.  For as much as we talked – sisters don’t need words.  

Sisters! An Emjayandthem(C) photo

2 ) Heat – arriving back home I was surprised to find the weather much hotter here (northern) than where we’d been (southern).  How did that happen?  80s up to 90s with little rain. It’s hot and dry.  Birds flitter happily through the sprinkler.

3 )  Taking a (leave-your-house) vacation is an excellent reminder that all of the stuff stressing me out is just that … stuff.    I work hard and do my best to stay on top of everything but every once in a while I need to step away from it and breathe.  Live.  Laugh.  And re-connect.

and there it is

4)  Books — Read one and bought another — one of my favorite things to do on a plane is to dive into a new story.  This one was well worth the dive:

… great read .. right to the last page!

And I bought this on the recommendation of a fellow passenger – next up on my summer reading list.

5 ) Summer’s here and another favorite just arrived — the Farm Market is open again!  I have to pace myself and remember that, for the most part, I’m the only one eating all these yummies.   Ooh … deliciousness abounds!!

What’s on your summer reading list?  Have you had any adventures lately?   What are you grateful for?  Are you a fan of toasted ‘mater sammiches, too?  *(GF for me!)

Toasted Tomato Sandwich ~ ahh, Summer!

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Confidence at any age, Faith, Family, Food, Friendship, Fun, Gratitude, Growth, Holidays, Home, Life, Love, Personal, Relationships, Thoughts, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Random 5 – Mom looks, phone calls, traffic, forgetting and Pearls

We’re halfway through May ~ wow!  I’ve been traveling so much that I was halfway through April when I realized my desk calendar said … March.  And wouldn’t you know that, ever since my last post, I’ve been craving Penny Candy?  🙂

I’m not here as much anymore, sorry, but I do read your posts when I can, and I think about writing. I really do.  I just … well … 10 & 12 hour work days + night meetings + copious travel and … yeah, you get it.   Something’s gotta give … and this g-a-v-e.

But a few randoms caught my attention lately and I thought “those would be great for the blog” – so here we go.   Random 5 on a .. gulp .. Wednesday.

(1)  Mother’s Day was great – relaxing – joyful.  The boys came and went, chats were had, hugs and presents were given.  Didn’t need anything fancy – just them.

… and we laughed about the power that IS “the Mom look”

( 2 )  Is it just me or has there been an uptick in anonymous calls?  Home, office and cell phone.  Hey, pal, if you can’t even announce who you are, I’m not answering.  This isn’t 1974 when no calls were ignored …!

( 3 )  My face.  In traffic.  Every day.  Except I’m dressed.

( 4 )  Did this the other day — walked around looking for my glasses which were on my head.  Geez Louise.   Have you gone to the basement and walked around wondering why you were there?  Came back up only to remember?  Gah!

( 5 )   An Auntie shared this photo recently of Dad’s mother, Grandma Pearl.  I get my naturally curly hair from her.  She was a marvelous cook ~ her pan-fried burgers with sautéed onions were to die for ~ and her baking was out of this world.  Sometimes she let me help – such a privilege!  I had the good fortune (and prior planning – wink wink) to be over for a noontime visit she’d invite me to stay for lunch with her and Grandpa and, before lunch even started (translate feast) she’d hand me a plate and ask me to go pick out baking for dessert — in the basement she had a freezer full of baked treats – gingerbread cookies, short breads, “Aunt Mary’s cookies,” home-made donuts, tarts, bars and more.  Any lucky grandchild carrying the plate could simply tip-toe down the gleaming white stairs to the baking freezer, crack open the lid and take our pick from the plethora of homemade goodness that lived there.  Setting the selections aside as we enjoyed lunch together, the treats would quickly defrost.  After lunch, Grandpa would dip spoonfuls of sugar into his coffee/cream, they’d quietly nibble their selections in the midst of  the clatter my stories must have generated.    When I see her face, I’m transported to the summers of my girlhood — pigtails, my pony tucked in the barn or a 10 speed right at the front door.  I feel again what I’d always known to be true.  Something they didn’t speak of, you had to be there to feel it.  Loved.

This picture taken in 1923 ~ 94 years ago ❤️ Pearl was 19. Her only daughter passed away on Mother’s Day ~ hard for us but a gift to her.  An Emjayandthem (C) Photo

 

What’s new in your world?  Did your Mom have “the Mom look” down?  What picture or fragrance transports you back to your Grand parents?  Do tell!

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Faith, Family, Friendship, Fun, Home, Humor, Joy, Life, Love, Opinion, Personal, Relationships, Self Discovery, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Church memories and penny candy

Reminiscing with Hubbs last night we laughed at the similarities of our childhoods:

  • Huge gardens & summer canning projects ~ a kitchen filled with steam
  • Church / Sunday School on Sundays through the school year
  • Vacation Bible school in the summer (plus 4-H camp for me and sports camp for him)
  • Family birthday parties with cake, coffee and a weenie roast
  • Freeze Tag, Kick-the-Can and Hide & Go Seek with cousins afterwards
  • Riding our bikes to the lake
  • And summer chores, saving our money for penny candy

Remembering my Sunday School routine, I told how our little village had a “Confectionery” downtown (1 1/2 blocks from the Church).  Because it was part of the hotel it could be open on Sundays (nothing else was) — Mom would give us  .25 cents  (two bits) with which we could buy:

  • a Pop and a bag of chips or
  • a Pop and a candy bar or
  • a little brown bag FULL of penny candy (always my choice)

Kind of like this

He and I agreed on the need to “make our candy last” – and how we’d negotiate with parents or siblings to get the best deal.    We differed on our choices, with him preferring chocolate to my licorice.

remember red hot dollars?

and licorice pipes?

We both laughed at this one:

Candy cigarettes!

The two of us could still remember the sweet, crunchy taste of a candy cigarette.  The sugar rush from a Pixie Stix.  The mess of “Fun Dip.”  He talked of hiding his Hershey bars from his brother and I did the same with my stash.  We agreed that underwear drawers were favorite hiding spots  ~ no one ventured there!

Funny how a little trip down memory lane can take you to places both sacred and sweet.

*****

*What was your favorite childhood candy?  How much did it cost?  Do you remember candy after Church, too? *

Categories: Faith, Family, Fun, Gratitude, Growth, Home, Joy, Life, Personal, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Trips, kids and canvas tents

Hubbs and I are back from our warm-weather vacation.   All I can say is … ahh!  Blue skies, warm sun and palm trees everywhere.    Our smiles couldn’t be contained.  It. Was. Wonderful.

Just landed – so many palm trees!

The resort we stayed at was sprawling – over 300 acres – so we rented a golf-cart  –  most evenings found us cruising around the resort, stopping to park at a random beach, to take in a walk or just sit and enjoy the view.

walkway to the beach

Headed back to our villa one evening, we came upon an older couple so Hubbs slowed down to ask if they’d like a ride (we’d rented a 4-person golf cart, the smallest available).

“No thanks,” she said, “We’re just getting our exercise.”

“Damn right I’d take a ride!” he exclaimed and hopped on, cane and all.

Meet Norm and Ginny from Rochester, New York.  Seems he’d had hip surgery and they were indeed out for a walk but he’d had about enough of that.  He asked where we were from and what brought us down this way  ~ when we said it was our 25th anniversary they both cheered us on and Norm said, with a wink, “we’re married 60 years and you know what? It only gets better from here!”  Sweet people and lots of fun, too.

We soon settled into a routine – up early to sip coffee in the screened-in balcony and watch boats slip in and out of the marina.    We’d finish up leftovers from the night before and head down to our pool around 12:30 ~  many families visited and so many  were busy with littlest ones wanting their attention.  “Dad, watch me.” “Mom, watch this!” “Dad!” “Mom!”  ~ when parents would comment on our lack of littles we’d just smile and say “been there, done that.”

Truth is – watching the excitement in their kids took us right back to when our boys were small.  Going to a pool – any pool – was such a big deal — and we’d pack and carry treats, floaties, noodles, paddle boards, diving materials, goggles, etc.  Watching the little kids at this pool – how they all run – everywhere.  Even when a parent shouts “NO RUNNING” there’s that quick walk-run that all kids do, they just can’t help themselves.    The more things change the more they stay the same.

Ahh

Hubbs and I spent our time together talking, laughing and enjoying the get away.  During our conversations, we discovered a shared loved of camping when we were kids – setting up that canvas tent in the backyard and having a friend or cousin over.  The night began early but the shenanigans didn’t start until well after dark – or after parents had gone to bed.  He lived in town so his adventures including hopping fences and swimming in others’ pools ~ mine including saddling up our ponies for a midnight moonlight ride.

We both remembered the excitement of the canvas tent waning around 7:00 a.m. when temperatures inside approached 600F.  Panting and sweating we’d emerge and head to the house, surely waking parents in our quest for food.

So it was comical yesterday, during Easter dinner, when youngest boy brought up how his girlfriend wants him to go camping and he wasn’t so sure. She exclaimed, “I love camping and I think you would, too.”

I caught Hubbs’ smirk when he encouraged them by saying, “You should do it, and make sure it’s a canvas tent!”

Sunrise view from the balcony

It was wonderful to go away. It’s great to be home.   And now, we’re plotting our next adventure and no it does not involve a tent!

And how was your week?

Categories: Attitude, Family, Fun, Home, Humor, Joy, Life, Personal, Relationships, Romance, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Lions, Lambs and funeral luncheons

Mother Nature has been mercurial again – here March roared in like a lion, with freezing temps, bitter cold, blowing snow and lashing sleet.   All this after a mid-February warm up to nearly 70F.  The latest round felt like a mid-winter spanking. Are we safe to assume March will leave like a lamb?  I’m not so sure.

A friend passed away last Sunday ~ shockingly young, leaving a wife and two children plus a business and employees to take care of.  We struggled to absorb the news and rally around our friend.  As expected, a call went out for food and folks didn’t disappoint.  At the wake Friday night, were crocks full of hot foods like meatballs, macaroni and cheese, Sloppy Joe’s, Fettuccine Alfredo and Lasagna plus trays of cakes, cookies and squares, salads, raw vegetables, fresh fruit, deviled eggs, boiled shrimp, crackers and cheese, a  baked ham and the fixings for sandwiches.

There’s something so comforting about being able to help at a time of sadness. 

Many commented on the abundance of foods and I thought of Mom and my Auntie and all the times they’d done the same. It’s nice to be part of a community that comes together and provides sustenance when needed.

Later that evening, reflecting on the day, Hubbs and I chuckled at how we’d both observed the same thing: older gentlemen – every one of them had a big slab of cake (sometimes two), cookies or brownies on their plate ~ we laughed about how we could see my Dad or his Grandpa doing the same – how they knew enough to”go for the good stuff first.

Co-mingled in the sadness is a lingering feeling of fellowship, the memory of a room growing loud with laughter and toasts to a good man.

And as the wind howls outside here today, no lambs are in sight.

**   How does your family or community navigate loss?  Are you experiencing Lambs or Lions where you live? **

 

Categories: Confidence at any age, Faith, Food, Grief, Home, Life, Love, Opinion, Personal, Share, Thoughts, Traditions, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Random 5 Friday

It’s Friday! It’s Random! Here we go:

1 )  Spring?  Summer?  Fall?  Certainly not winter.  We hit 70F this week and yep, you guessed it, snow’s coming back tomorrow.  I think Mother Nature is going through ‘the change.’  Nothing is as usual – grass is green, bugs are out, things are growing – Bam! They’re going to be surprised when the next wallop of snow lands!

2 ) Lots of travel lately – I don’t mind because I am open to and enjoy the random interactions that occur. Example: between meetings in the capital city this week, I grabbed lunch at a little cafe.  I noticed an older gentleman wearing what had to be his finest suit.  He was decked out from coordinated socks to a beautiful tie to his exquisite hat – you don’t see hats much anymore.  As I got up to pay my bill, I complimented him on his handsome hat – a wide grin broke out and we enjoyed a short chat – he was in town in meetings on behalf of a seniors care organization (similar to Meals on Wheels).  He was polished, articulate and commanding;  I can’t imagine anyone saying no to him.  Well the company I work for has a program that seniors can benefit from – he has my card and I have a friend in Mr. William (Bill) Jones.  You just never know where your path will take you;  I’m glad mine took me to him.

3 )  Saw this the other day and it reminded me of my cousin and I – who does this remind you of?  I need to send it to my sister, too – she’ll get it!

laugh-till-you-snort4 ) An Auntie has been dealing with a tough situation over the past few months – my offers to help have been politely declined.  One day last week she contacted me and said “I need your help – I am at my wit’s end.”  The back story is she’d been forced to place her (dementia-afflicted) husband in nursing home care – a decision that was very tough for her to do.  The problem was the home he ended up being placed in was a) too far away, b) not not working for them and c) all efforts to move him closer were regularly thwarted by the (for-profit) center.  As I told her, I don’t know anyone in this world, but I have many contacts and I’ll try. I spent the day on the phone, and by 4pm had his case over to the state regulatory bureau who investigates and licenses nursing homes. (Go big or Go home, my Mom would say!!)    Uncle was moved the next morning, after months of attempts.  The best part was that every (Government)office I called – and every person I spoke to – once they heard their story-  they reacted as I had – with disbelief, anger and a sense of urgency.  It buoyed us all to know that, when given the opportunity, strangers very happily did the right thing … and quickly.   He’s closer, she’s happier, and being able to help her blessed me.   🙂

5 )  And with that, I’m off on my next road trip – but – I’ve timed it so I can meet a friend for lunch on the way back into town today.    Life’s rolling by too quickly and it’s time to carve out some friends time, too.

“Yes, you see, there’s no such thing as coincidence. There are no accidents in life. Everything that happens is the result of a calculated move that leads us to where we are.”
― J.M. Darhower, Sempre: Redemption

What’s random in your world these days?  Met anyone interesting?

 

 

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Family, Friendship, Growth, Home, Life, Love, Mom, Personal, Quotes, Self Discovery | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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