Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Blue Topaz Birthstone Bracelet

Check out my newest creation. It's going up in the etsy store tomorrow.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Teenage Lessons

One of the thoughts going on in my head today is of a 17 year old kid who was killed in a car accident this past weekend. The kid lives near my neighborhood and goes to the local high school. Many parents I know knew of this kid or has their own kids who knew him. The newspaper didn't do a very good job of explaining the nature of the accident but I got some inside info.

The accident happened around midnight. The kid was speeding through a gated community racing to get to his friend's house. He and his friends were notorious for speeding and driving recklessly. He was also drinking prior to getting into the car. He also was not wearing his seat belt. He wrapped himself around a tree. He was not killed instantly. He lived for another 3 days but if he had lived he would have been severely brain damaged.

I used this example quite poignantly with my own two teenage boys, one who is learning right now how to drive. Fortunately I didn't have to get far with my explanation before it was THEM who asked me "was he drinking?", "was he speeding?", "was his seat belt off?" I told them yes on all counts.

Raising teenagers is a tough business. In my opinion it's the hardest phase of parenting that I have been through. You are battling many things going on at one time such as hormones, know-it-all-itis, and still undeveloped brains. When you combine that with the dangers of driving, it's difficult.

I decided that I would always be as direct with my teens as possible with a lot of the risky behaviors that they will face. Everything from sex to drugs to drinking to driving. I present all of the facts as best as I can and we have LOTS of discussions. I am as open and honest as I possibly can be. And it appears to be paying off. My sons have come to me to discuss their most private inner thoughts that they tell no one else. They ask me to keep their feelings private and I respect that. They know I won't lie to them or make fun of them. And sometimes it's difficult to see the rewards but when they come I feel so much better that what I am saying and doing is getting through in many different ways.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Nativity Bracelet up on Etsy

I have a new Nativity Story bracelet up in the etsy store for $8 + $2 shipping for a total of $10. If you know anyone who would be interested, send them a link to the store. This is the perfect gift for anyone including a religious teacher or friend. I can make it in adult size or child size.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What Do You Think?

I got the oddest email today. About a year ago I wrote an article on At the time I was trying to develop my writing skills and this site is great for that. You can write articles about anything and everything. I decided to write about how I overcame clinical depression.

Since writing the article, several people emailed me thanking me for sharing my powerful story. I never really imagined that anyone would read it but I am glad if it helped anyone. I have often thought about writing a book on the subject but always turned that idea away. There seems to be enough depression books out already on the market.

But today a comment on my article came to me via email, almost a year after I first wrote it. The girl introduced herself as a staffer who works on the Montel Williams show. It seems he is writing a new book where he talks about overcoming depression and is lining up guests to be on the show who have experienced similar feelings. She would like to send me details.

I don't know what to make of this email. I am always skeptical of a scam. So I wrote her back and asked her to give me more details. It does seem strange that she would be emailing me on Dec 3 to come and tape a show on Dec 16. The timing seems too close. I am a terrible skeptic. Still I will see what comes of this and post an update as soon as possible.

Oh and if you would like to read my article, I have posted a copy of it here.

Over ten years ago, I was diagnosed with clinical depression. I knew something was wrong but didn't know what it was. I was going through two very traumatic experiences in my life and thought I was just momentarily sad. It wasn't until the sadness turned really dark and gray and I felt that I was growing out of control. But years later I have recovered and I would like to share how I accomplished this.

I am not a licensed anything so from a medical standpoint I am not qualified to diagnose anything. But I do have experience with my own depression and I feel it is important to reach out to those who are depressed and may not know it. On the other hand perhaps you do know you are depressed and don't know what to do about it.

The first step in recovery is recognizing that you have clinical depression. I have learned that there is a big difference between temporary sadness and clincal depression. For me, I felt depressed even when happy events were occuring around me. I recognized I was depressed when I cried through my niece's baptism. This was a huge, happy event for my family and all I could do was think about myself and cry in the back of the church. I believe this was my wake up moment and when I decided I needed help. The signs of my depression were constant crying and not knowing the reasons for the crying, not being able to sleep, not eating properly, not being able to concentrate and having trouble functioning in life. All of these symptoms occured for me on a regular basis over a long period of time. Some people experience more dire signs such as attempted suicide. If you feel suicidal please call 911 and get more immediate help.

I never experienced feelings of suicide but I did imagine how wonderful life would be if I were not living. The world looked totally gray to me. I didn't appreciate or enjoy living things or life around me. These are additional symptoms that you may be experiencing.

After you identify the symptoms and might suspect you have a clinical depression, the best thing you can do for yourself is to find a good therapist. If you work and have an EAP program, you can find a therapist through the program or your insurance company. You can also look online or get a referral from a friend. You can also enlist the help of a local church or community group that might be able to offer referrals or advice.

When you have picked out a therapist you will need to determine if he/she will be a good fit for you. The first visit with the therapist is key to establishing a lasting relationship. You will need to feel comfortable in order to be able to speak candidly about all that you are feeling. Don't be afraid to ask questions of the therapist. You want to feel hopeful that the therapist is on the same page as you and sharing the same goals as you for your recovery. If you are not comfortable with the therapist do not be afraid to admit it. It's important to remember that a good therapist does not want you to be there unless you really want to be. You won't hurt the therapist's feelings if you decide to go elsewhere. In my own experience, there were a couple of therapists that I felt did not help me move toward recovery so I moved on from them as well and kept trying.

Some therapists might recommend medication. This is strictly up to you and your therapist as to the best treatment. If you don't want to be medicated it is ok to say so to your therapist. You do not have to take medication in order to recover from depression. I did not take medication during my treatment but that was strictly a personal decision.

Talk therapy is a very important part of your treatment. Talk therapy is being able to talk through your feelings to your therapist and allowing the therapist to give you feedback, ask questions and perform techniques to help you work through the pain and depression. Talk therapy is a long process and does take time and patience. In my own experience I did talk therapy for approximately 8 months and eventually transitioned to a point where I started feeling better. Every individual responds differently and may take longer or shorter depending on the intensity of the depression.

Lastly, it helps tremendously to have the help and support of family and friends. Personally, I did not have many friends and I distanced myself from my family during my depression. This prolonged my treatment and if I had to do it all over again, I would have brought my family in closer. It is very easy to push everyone out of your life during this troubling time but it really does help to have them around to comfort you during this difficult time.

You really can recover from clinical depression. It is not easy and does take work but it is manageable and one can recover and lead a happy life.

Monday, December 1, 2008

New Items In My Etsy Store

I added several items to my new store and I am working on developing some pre-teen crystal earrings. I have the 4-9 age group developing nicely but I think I will venture past 9 and do something for 9-13 and call it "preteens". Look for more to come on this development. I hope to have some items put together this week.

NF- Making it through another year

Today was the yearly appointment for our princess and her genetist who diagnosed her a few years ago with NF-1 which stands for neurofibromatosis type 1. Initially my thoughts were filled with fear and I didn't know much about this condition. Princess checked out in great condition. There are no new cafe au lait spots except for one that started last year on her buttocks that grew quite large and dark. It has not gotten any worse or raised at all for the past 6 months so that makes me feel a lot better.

You would never know she has NF-1. Her teacher was quite surprised when we told her about it but she was very interested to hear the information. She is reaching all of her milestones in school and thensome. We just got a great mid-term report today on that end. She loves her dance and soccer and reading and is a totally normal playful child.

Our truly wonderful doctor who is one of the finest in the country told us today that there are remarkable breakthroughs in the area of medicine and NF-1 and we might want to attend a local conference in January to learn more about it. All I know is that there are some clinical medicinal trials taking place today that give hope to a slowing or stopping of the progression of fibromas and that possibly this would be available within the next 3 years.

I am so excited to hear of this and can't wait to go to this conference in January.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

I will never understand Black Friday. It's the most insane day of the year. But that's just my opinion. I do everything I can to avoid going out on Black Friday, even to go to the grocery store. I guess I am in a period of my life where "stuff" just isn't that important to me. The sales are ok but the "stuff" would have to be practically free to get me in those crowds. Here in my house, I am collecting a lot of our "stuff" to give away. We are going back to bare necessities because in my house it leads to happier children and happier parents especially me who loves to declutter.

So when I read this I get equally frustrated with days like this.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Decluttering Fool

It's that time of year again where I do my pre-New Year cleaning. You see, most people do "Spring Cleaning" but I don't because if I wait for Spring to come it is already too hot to be crawling around in my attic and garage. So I do mine during the cooler South Florida months and the best time is usually around Christmas. I figure I am crawling around in the attic anyway bringing down my Christmas decorations so I kill two birds with one stone.

But the decluttering that usually occurs in every room in my house is going to be spilling over to my home computer. It is in desperate need of decluttering. I am going to tackle a variety of categories on the computer.

First mission is email. While I keep a pretty clean inbox (no larger than a half page is my motto) I tend to build notes up in folders. So the folders are going through a massive cleanout.

Second mission is the favorites. I have accumulated a lot of favorites that are no longer valid bookmarks so out they all go. After they are all gone I will then organize them into folders, nice and neat.

Third mission is photos. I have a ton of photos on my hard drive. I have two systems for this. First, I upload all of my photos to I love that server because if I need to order a picture it couldn't be easier and affordable too. Because I don't like to put all of my photos in only one spot, I am also going to utilize a flash drive and use that to backup my photos. A flashdrive case holds the drive and it gets put into my safe. The photos then get deleted off my hard drive. It frees up quite a bit of disk space.

Fourth mission is other files. Again, I utilize two flash drives for this so that one can backup the other and they get put away for safe keeping. This year I am toying with online servers such as gmail where you can upload documents but I am still concerned about hacking and safety so there will be more research into this. Once everything is uploaded and backed up, it all gets deleted off my hard drive.

Fifth mission is the desktop. My desktop tends to get cluttered because when I am actively working on a file, I tend to save it to my desktop so I can get right back to it easily. Sometimes I forget to take it off the desktop so this is what I have to clean up.

Once I am finished with decluttering my PC I go through a disk cleanup which cleans out all the old programs that I never or rarely use and then go through defragmenting.

When I am finished my computer feels like it just went through a spa treatment and is happy and working efficiently once again.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Make A Rue With Me

Last year I posted this and it has to do with making a rue. I think at the time I was doing some cooking posts and thought that learning how to make a rue was one of the better pieces of knowledge I had as a cook.

What I didn't know at the time was that this post would be BY FAR my most googled and hit on post. When I look at my page summaries this one comes up over any of the others combined. And all week I have been looking at my stats and it is off the charts this week. Of course, it is Thanksgiving week and probably a lot of people are looking for gravy recipes.

So I do a little experiment and I go to google and I type in "how to make a rue" and lo and behold, my post is the first hit to come up! No wonder so many people are hitting my blog.

Now if I could only figure out a way to get my jewelry blog to come up as much. Still figuring that one out.

In the meantime if you want to know how to make a rue, just come here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Where Did My Boy Go?

I remember the day that I gave birth to my first child as if it was yesterday...every little detail and memory of that day. At the time I swore it was the happiest day of my life and it was. I have had 3 more happiest days since then and each one not happier than the other. I knew that time would fly the minute he was born because everyone told me it would. And it has. He has gone from being the quietest baby to the noisiest teenager. As a child he was never big on demands but as a teenager that's a whole different story. Way back then he was a real guy's guy. Now he is showing an interest in girls. When he was little he would go on the computer to learn how to read. Now he goes on the computer to send off emails or research a school project. I remember how cute he was in that car seat and now I am teaching him how to drive. He used to call me "mommy" and lately he has cut that short to just "mom".

It's such a shock. Each passing day is one day closer to him turning 18 and another day closer to college and I am about 99% certain that college will be a pretty long distance from home. There are days when I wonder if I am doing the best job I can do. I am sure I fail at times but then there are times when he does or says something and I know I am doing something good and right. A big part of me wants him to be independent and able to cope in life and another part of me wants to just hug him closer and stop time. I knew this would happen and I knew I would always feel this way wanting to make time stop and keep him small and young and always looking for more kisses from me.

I got a newsletter from his high school regarding graduation photos for the seniors. He is not there yet...just a sophomore. But when I saw the letter I fast-forwarded to 2 years from now where it will be ME who will be doing the graduation photos. It will be ME who will buy graduation announcements. It will be ME to help mail off those college applications. It will be ME who will have to figure out how I am going to get through his 18th birthday.

I am not sure how I will prepare for this but there is one thing I have learned and that is that no matter how hard I pray, time just isn't going to stop for me.

Jewelry Update

I ran across a snag in my latest necklace creation but I should have it fixed and into my etsy store by end of weekend. Check here to view the story.

Also, I will be doing all of my jewelry blogging here from now on so please please add me to your reader and join the fun. I could use the support and feedback. There will be lots of information there on new items in the store, craft fairs, and other fun and games.

See you there!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New Etsy Store - so exciting

So excited about my new etsy store. I just started uploading items to the store and it does take a bit of work to get it all there and accurate. Right now I have 4 bracelets uploaded with many more to come tonight. Check back for more news.

The Disney necklaces are coming very very the next 24 hours! So excited. All the girls at my daughter's school are fighting over them!

Oh So Cute Jewelry

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Reason For H.O.P.E.

I was in church this morning and usually right before the holiday season kicks off we have a guest speaker who comes in to talk about an outreach center called H.O.P.E. that was first started by the pastor of our church that helps needy people in our community. The church collects food for the food bank regularly and I give regularly to the bank.

But today I felt the need to do more. So the guest speaker came up and talked about the Adopt-A-Family program that was kicking off just in time for the holidays. If you adopt a H.O.P.E. family you will do whatever you can to help make the holiday nice for that family. I decided that we were going to sign up. You do not know the family that you are choosing. All you know is how many children and adults are in that family. We got a family with one child and two adults.

When you open the envelope there is a piece of paper in there that describes the ages of the children, sex, and first name(s) along with anything that the family might be requesting. It turns out that the child in the family that we adopted is 2 months old and is a boy. The family says that it needs "anything."

When I saw that I was deeply touched in many ways. It touched me because I have 4 children of my own and I realize how blessed they are to have the comforts of life that they do have. Secondly it touched me because the parents didn't seem too demanding of any one thing in particular. Perhaps because they are so needy that they asked for anything that we could give. And last, it touched me because I never imagined that the luck of the draw would give me an infant that we could help. There is something really powerful about that thought given we are approaching the Christmas season.

My mind went into high gear as our family talked about what to do for this family. First thing is that we should get some baby essentials like basic clothing. We will also buy a few cases of diapers and wipes. For the family we are going to give them a Publix gift certificate for food. After we do all that we will start thinking about toys and books. I am looking forward to this week to start shopping and planning for this family. If all goes well and we have some money left over we may go back and adopt another family. After all, it's the season of giving thanks.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

New Jewelry Sample Designs

I was toying today with some new jewelry designs. A good friend of mine gave me some really good business advice. I have been really struggling with developing a target jewelry market. But as I was telling him how my idea of a jewelry making business came about he saw how enthused I was in describing all of the jewelry I was making for my young daughter. I also told him I was inspired after last Christmas when I was shopping for my young nieces and could find nothing in the jewelry section that was age appropriate that didn't look cheap and didn't look hoochie-mama. Enter my young daughter. She is also coming to an age where she loves little girl jewelry and I cannot find anything that is unique enough to her personality. So I set my sights on learning how to make it my own and it has kind of taken on a life of its own.

So I told my friend how much I love to make jewelry for myself. He then noticed I was not sticking to a target audience...young girls....go further though and say young girls age 4-9. Make a line. Get a website. Give the jewelry away. Do shows. Create a buzz. So I am excited. Before anything I need to work on that line and I spent much of last week shopping for beads, supplies and things I think would be unique to my business.

I created some jewelry samples this weekend much to the liking of my daughter because she gets all the leftovers. That's double good for me because she will wear the stuff to school and one day I hope to keep creating a buzz. For now I am going to share a few of the samples with you. But remember that I am playing with beads and stringing materials. These are not finished products and things I will be selling because there is a bit more fine tuning I want to do to the product to make it look more finished. But you get a peek at my progress. Also I am posting this same post at my jewelry blog. I would sure love it if you would bookmark me and check my progress there too.

Here I am tinkering with memory wire. This stuff is great for kids for many reasons. First, you are not bothered by a clasp so the child can take it on or off at will. It doesn't fall off either because the memory wire conforms to the area and overlaps around the back. There is no sizing involved because, again, the wire conforms to the neck area. It cannot choke because it is open at the back. The only drawback to the memory wire is that you can only make short choker style necklaces with them so I will have to create other alternatives to this style.

Here I am playing with my multi-colored Hello Kitty beads. This is a stretchy cord bracelet for a little girl. I love all of the colors. Who knew that Hello Kitty can be found in all different colors.

More pink Hello Kitty beads on a memory wire choker. This is also so cute. Too bad the photo isn't so great because I was running out of natural sunlight. Will try again tomorrow.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Volunteer Hours

A few weeks ago when my teenager came home from his first night of CCD to kick off his last year he gave me a bunch of papers that describe what he is going to learn that will help him prepare for his upcoming Confirmation in March. I have been through this before with my oldest one. Part of the preparation is the requirement to do some volunteering at home, school and church. We talked about what he could do for the hours and some of his teachers recommendations. He tell me "my teacher says that every 5 hours of helping around the house gets 1 hour of volunteer time." I think that's all well and good and will get him to his requirement but is that REALLY volunteering? Is it really helping someone else out (other than me who gets the added benefit of extra help around the house)? While I could really use the help, I am not in desperate need of it and will he really learn something from that to prepare him for adulthood?

I ponder this thought and then listen to this where he speaks of something greater.."It can't happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice. So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other."

Surely we can find more meaningful work for a 14 year old to do within the community. So I start digging on the computer and find a volunteer organization within the county that we live. They organize all sorts of smaller groups and volunteers and match people up with their skills and the communities needs. Perfect. I join and next week myself along with my two boys are going to an orientation class where we will be able to pick from all kinds of organizations to help our community.

We are going to start off at my older one's Catholic school where volunteer students gather once a month in the cafeteria to feed the homeless and then take ourselves to other shelters where they will need us to help. We will sign ourselves up for Special Olympics duties. My boys are so fortunate to be able to play any sport they want without having to suffer a handicap. Wouldn't it be so wonderful for them to be able to give of themselves in this capacity to someone who does suffer? We have already started to make rosaries for troops and pitching in every week for our church's food bank. But it's all new to us and I suspect that for every thing that we do together we not only get to that service hour requirement but hopefully touch lives and enrich our own.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

To All People

"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and always will be, the United States of America."

It's not the speech but the way the words inspire that makes it great.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

More Jewelry In The Store

I am so excited to show some of my latest creations that are up and available in my store.

For Halloween I made a few different earrings.

A new ID lanyard. The green beads are so feminine.

Awareness jewelry is so beautiful and for a great cause. Donations to the awareness fund are made every time I purchase these beads.

Below are two different bracelets...

This one below is my absolute favorite.

and an awareness ID lanyard....I love this!

What do you think? I have so many new ideas for Christmas and projects on my table including more awareness jewelry, earrings, and pins.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Time To Brag

Thank goodness that my princess isn't like me at all when it comes to an artistic side. Up until recently I never had an artistic side and I always felt that this has limited me in certain aspects of life. But not my little girl. She LOVES to do anything with art whether it is coloring, pasting, watercolors, computer drawing and any variation of the above. She has now started to create books including her best attempts to write in sentences and spell words. She does her own illustrations. The only thing I help her with is binding the book together. Her recent creation was a book she wrote for her dad. In the book she writes the sentence "I will never give up on you." Where she got that saying I don't know. Maybe I have said it to her before and she has never forgotten it. Either way I believe she has a gift.

So this morning she was tucked in her room at her desk. She was pretty quiet and I decided to peek in on her to see what she was up to. She was cutting and pasting and coloring. There was a pretty big mess of paper scraps on the floor. I let her finish and when she came out of her room, she shared this with me. It's a creation she made for our entire family. The saying at the top of the paper is from a plaque she has hanging above her bed that says "I love God and God loves me. God bless my family and God bless me."

No Dining Out Allowed

My month long moratorium on dining out has proven to be quite successful in this first month that it has been implemented. I made the decision that in order to quickly pay off our vacation credit card charges I would have to implement a few spending moratoriums. The first one is on dining out. So this past month we have not dined out once and I was pleasantly surprised when the VISA bill came in to see how little we spent based on months past and how much more I could pay off because of this. I am feeling very optimistic that we will be debt free going into this holiday season.

But the moratorium took some really extensive planning on my part. It is quite difficult at time with my hectic schedule to continue to ensure that all dinners are made at home and in a timely manner. But I am an engineer by trade and a career analyst and process supervisor in my job. Certainly I can create a "meals at home" process from all that training at work.

I sat in front of my computer and created a calendar for each month. In that calendar for each day I chose the meal that I was going to prepare also based on the schedule of activities. So for days where we have baseball or dance planned the meal will be a fairly easy one such as spaghetti, salad and rolls. Sundays are reserved for the nicer, bigger meals like lagasna or turkey and trimmings. I also managed to incorporate some of my kids favorites. How I accomplished this was I took a survey with all of my kids and asked them to tell me their top 5-6 meals they really like for me to cook. I simply filled in the calendar days with some of the favorite meals.

I am still playing this game and loving it so after I pull up my shopping lists, I grab my weekly calendar with meals filled in and go about writing up a shopping list of what I need for my meal plan.

I build in one easy day a week for those inevitable times when we literally are running in and out. On those days we have frozen pizza and salad and everyone is happy including mom.

I had my doubts at first because it does take a bit of planning ahead and sticking to the plan but so far it's working out nicely.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Thrift Shops

I just read this story online regarding a rise in sales at Goodwill and thrift stores around the country and I have to chuckle to myself because the phenomenon is nothing new to me.

I have been a regular at these types of stores since I was a poor college student living on grants and student loans. Every dollar counted. I relished at finding awesome sales and cheap deals. And now that I have a decent job and salary to accompany it, I can certainly afford to buy an occasional item in a retail store. But I have been programmed to look first at the cheaper thrift stores. And if you find a high quality thrift or consignment store in your area, you have won the jackpot. I have found both and I frequent them a lot.

Case in point is a kids consignment store near my house that I have been going to for 15 years. They are so extremely picky about what they accept so I know that when I buy something there it will be odor-free, dirt-free, and spot-free. I have actually purchased stuff there with the original price tag on. But the other day I was there looking for discounted school uniforms when I stumbled upon Halloween costumes. I found a perfect $6 Thomas the Tank Engine costume for my little man. I snagged it and brought it home and he loves it. The exact same costume is going for $22 at the Party City down the street. I don't know who was more excited - me or him. Oh and while I was there I bought a couple of cute pajama sets for him at $4 each versus $10 at Target. Clean, spot free, and dirt free.

I don't stop at kids stores. I frequent the adult consignment stores for myself. I have found really amazing designer shoes and purses and jewelry and sunglasses along with clothes too. The key is to find a shop that has the quality and kind of merchandise that you like.

I know a lot of people have a problem with wearing previously worn clothes but when I buy my second hand clothes I wash them thoroughly and in some instances I will send them off to dryclean if the clothes are for me. If shoes or purses look a bit dirty I will go to my local shoe repair store to clean them up for like $5-$10.

There are certain things I don't buy used like underwear or bathing suits. But everything else is fair game.

One of the other reasons I love these shops so much is because all of the items are sorted by sizes and then by colors and since I have very limited time to shop I can go directly to the spot I want and look as opposed to department stores which have racks of clothes scattered over a large area and some sizes are not there which is a huge waste of my time.

So before you shake your head and say "this isn't for me" try it out and you might be glad you did. You might be surprised at what you will find.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

New Jewelry Ideas

I am so excited to be coming up with a few new jewelry ideas by the end of this week. I will have everything posted by then and on my new blog. They will also be in my store as well.

This is a great time of the year with some really neat Halloween and Christmas gift ideas especially for the little girls. I also have some really beautiful pink pieces in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month. The best thing is that these pieces are all at very affordable prices and are going to make really nice gift ideas.

Stand by. I will have pictures for you all very soon.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Big Decision Coming Up

I have a big decision to make soon and, no, it has nothing to do with the upcoming election. It has to do with whether or not I want to commit myself to another half marathon.

I blogged this same time last year about a half marathon that I ran earlier this year on January 12. It was an amazing accomplishment and a feeling I won't soon forget. Since then a lot of people have asked me about the marathon. They ask me how hard it was, how much training I did, how tired I got, how did I motivate myself, how did I prepare?

When I explain what the hardest part was about the marathon my answer takes most people back a few steps. To most people it may seem like the actual 13.1 mile run is the hardest part when in fact that couldn't be further from the truth. What is the hardest part (at least for me) is the decision to actually do it. For me, once I make this big decision there is really no turning back. I am committed. Baring an injury or crisis of some kind, there is no quit in me.

And that is where I stand today. Looking at a marathon that will come in February 2009. Which means I have to start right now to get myself into shape and start to train for another great feat. But I haven't made the final decision. I teeter on it. Should I. Shouldn't I. Should I. Shouldn't I.

I am giving myself to the end of this week because if not I will never have enough time to train myself. I will let you know what I finally decide.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Sad Text Message

I was at the store yesterday making a purchase when a text message came to my cell phone just as I was approaching the cashier. It was from a friend of mine who, over this past year, I have been developing a friendship with. Her daughter is in my son's daycare class and she works in the office at the day care. We have attended kids birthday parties together and other functions outside of day care. Our conversations are usually about kids or school or tv shows. We have never talked about politics or news.

So I get this text message and here is what it says:

"Can you believe Obama is screaming about change? Do U know what CHANGE means? It means Come Help A N*** (substitute the N word) Get Elected."

When I read it I thought it was spam of some kind. Until I looked at the sender and saw that it was my friend who sent it to me.

I was so upset and flustered that I didn't realize that the cashier at the store was asking me for payment. I was shaking so bad that I could barely get my money out of my purse. I fumbled through but as I left the store I couldn't contain the tears. I made my way back to the car where my husband and kids were and he asked me what was wrong.

"I am sick. Heart sick." I showed him the text message and he got as upset as me.

On the way back all I could think was that this friend of mine who I really liked is truly a RACIST and not very smart. First of all, she has no idea which political candidate I am supporting (which just happens to be Barack Obama) and had no thought that perhaps I was not in line with her. She made a bad assumption. Why would she assume that? After all, we have never even uttered a word ever about politics. Second of all, I suppose she assumed that I am a racist like her and that such a comment would not offend me. The latter point leads me to believe that she leads a fairly vacuous, intolerant life.

I am not naive to think that there aren't racists out there. What is shocking is the brazen attitude. There is just no excuse for it. As I get ready for church today, I will be sure to send some prayers her way and then try to prepare myself for tomorrow when I will see her again.

Monday, September 22, 2008

We Interrupt The Election Season...

to announce a historic moment that is going to occur this week.....

Bring on Must See Thursday night on NBC.

The Office

Monday, September 15, 2008

What Do I Know....

I'm just a baseball mom to 4 kids who works 40 hours a week. I intended today to speak of my joyful weekend where my little princess started her first season of soccer but instead decided to deviate a little. I hope you don't mind a little political intervention on my blog. I don't usually blog about politics and that is by choice. I don't really care for negative comments and I don't like shutting down comments and really everywhere you turn is someone's opinion on this election.

Today is a bit different and I am about to break my #1 rule of this election season which is never to talk bad about the person you are NOT going to vote for. After all, if you really support your guy (or girl) then you should be talking about how he (or she) is going to make your life better as opposed to how the other guy (or girl) will make your life more miserable.

This time is different because I feel strongly in defending my honor as a woman, wife, mother, and company worker. I also feel the need to write because everywhere I turn I keep hearing and reading about St. Sarah know, the woman who has prompted even those working-mom naysayers who I frequently would run into after I had kids and went back to work to change their opinions and say "women CAN do it all!" I keep wondering why they aren't asking Sarah Palin if working so soon after having babies is really in the best interest of her children. I often fielded that question.

What I do feel for Sarah Palin is embarrassment at the selection. I feel embarrassed for her because she was used as a pawn in the political game and I am not sure if she realizes it. I had to turn away and cringe when she implied that she knew about Russia because you could see it from land in Alaska. I needed the smelling salts when Sen. McCain mouthed these same words. I feel embarrassed because she won't talk to the media and then uses it as a badge of honor to her base. I feel embarrassed because she repeats the same mantra over and over and never once changes the message. I feel embarrassed because she put herself in the same sentence as Hillary Clinton. In the spring Sen. Clinton is a “whiner” according to Gov. Palin for her complaints about sexism, in the fall when you want to get some of those 18-million-cracks-in-the-glass-ceiling-voters you have nothing but word of praise for Sen. Clinton even though your stance on the issues could not be farther from one another. I feel embarrassed because she still seems to think that the U.S. invaded Iraq to get the guys who did so much damage to Americans on 9-11. I feel embarrassed for her because she is being used to wage a sexist war against her opponents. She either doesn't care or doesn't seem to get it.

As a fellow working woman, I know how hard it is to work amongst men. I know what the perceptions are out there when a woman gets hired over a capable man. I just started a new job a few weeks ago and have been in new positions many times along my career. Each time I work extra hard in those first few months to prove myself. To show my boss and my compadres that the best person (not woman) for the job was chosen. I volunteer to speak at meetings. I volunteer to fill in for my boss. I do all that because I want to put myself out there that I deserved what was awarded to me. Where is Sarah Palin? Hiding behind a teleprompter. Hiding from interviews. Speaking words that are written for her.

I firmly believe that the election is not about whether Sarah Palin can do a job and have kids at the same time. Both women and men have been proving it true for many, many years. The election isn't even about whether I like her or her running mate. The election is about what they are going to do for this country on day 1, day 2, day 3, and so forth.

Sarah Palin would have done a lot of us a big service if she would have said "Thanks but no thanks" to that potential job in Washington. Just like she said "Thanks but no thanks" to that Bridge to Nowhere.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Getting Past A Fear

One (but not the only) fear I have is a fear of big needles. Well, really, any needle for that matter. I am not sure when it started though I think it had something to do with a bad experience I had 16 years ago when I was giving blood for a blood drive. One of the nurses who was administering the needle for my blood withdrawal really didn't know what she was doing and totally inserted it wrong. It was working for the first portion of the withdrawal but then as the bag started becoming full, the needle started hurting worse and worse until I could no longer take the pain and it had to be removed. Fortunately there was enough blood in the bag to be useful but the experience scarred me for life. I have never gone back to donate blood since then.

But lately I have been reflecting a lot on how small donations can mean a lot. I ramped up my grocery donations to my church's food bank and signed up to be a Special Olympics volunteer. Just then a notice came home from my son's daycare that the Red Cross would have the blood bank at the daycare on Sept 11 for anyone who wants to donate. I decided I was going to get past my 16 year fear and set aside an hour in my day to make a small donation. If I can do it, so can you.

I am very confident that things are going to go well this time and I am actually looking forward to it and making future donations.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

An Interesting Dinner Conversation

An interesting discussion happened at the dinner table yesterday regarding politics and the presidential election. It actually started because my older kids were talking about how this subject has been coming up in their history classes. I then started feeling that I didn't do a good enough job in discussing this subject with them. So off the conversation went and it was a lot of fun.

I got them to start really thinking about issues and I really tried hard to explain candidates and what each of their policy plans are and how they affect America. I explained the process of elections from primaries to the general. I decided that my explanations would be based primarily on fact though it does get a bit hard at times to not inject one's personal opinion. I still try and then try to warn them when it is my personal opinion.

I never wanted my kids to grow up deciding a vote just because their parents vote for a certain party or candidate. I always want them to be able to decide for themselves and to mature enough about what is important to them.

I also teach to them that everyone is equally entitled to a vote and opinion and that above all else we should be respectful of that very idea.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

New Things In My Store

I am so excited to add a few new things to my online store including a new little girl swarovski bracelet, cell phone/bookbag/luggage tags, and little girl earrings. Here is a link to the store and then I have put my photos here.

My Store

Swarovski bracelet:

Must Have Tags:


Coming soon will be a new line of beautiful and colorful swarovski pearl earrings and more jewelry for the "princess" section.

The Mommy Wars

Sometime back in 1992, I made the decision (along with my then-husband) to go back to work after giving birth to my first child. I was lucky enough to have an extended maternity leave of 4 months and had saved enough personal vacation to extend that another month. I was also lucky enough to have a supervisor who was very understanding of the transition I would have to make upon going back to work and was willing to work with me. I explained to her that always my child comes first and we worked together on those issues that would inevitably come up not just now but in the future. I promised myself I would never push my baby on anyone if he was sick or needed me and I would never let work get in the way of an important function that involved him or any future kids.

What I didn't realize at the time was that whether or not I liked it I was going to be thrown into the "Mommy Wars." I was totally clueless of the term and the internet wasn't around for me to figure it out. But the judgements and questions certainly were there. Many women who I knew or were acquaintances of actually challenged me on my decision. I heard a lot of "why would you have a child if you were going to pawn it off on a day care worker?" I took offense to those questions. Those women don't know me, they don't know my family situation, they didn't know my level of love and committment, they didn't understand my relationship with my son, my husband and God.

Back then (and still today) I am a lover not a fighter. Certainly I have opinions but I don't presume that my opinions are the right's just the right way for ME. I couldn't understand why there was (and still is) such a thing as mommy wars. Why not be supportive of each other and build each other up? That's my thinking anyway. Thank goodness we live in the greatest country in the world where we CAN make that choice freely and openly. We can work outside the home or work inside the home. Either way, it's work. Hard work.

The Mommy Wars never got easier as I had more kids. In fact, with the internet coming long, I read more about the wars. I read forums that pit working moms against stay at home moms and all the time I scratch my head. More judgments, more presumptions, more perceptions. I don't quite get it.

I read a lot of reports about kids in daycare. The statistics say that day care kids are more likely to grow up to be aggressive bullies. Day care kids are more sickly. I think to myself "but my kids all went to daycare and they are not bullies or aggressive and they go to the doctor only once a year for a checkup (knock on wood)." Maybe the stats are true. I don't know. But they aren't true for me and my family.

And then on Friday I see something I never thought would ever happen. A working mom on a Republican ticket. How very interesting! Whatever your thoughts of her are politically (I don't blog politics) I have to wonder if Governor Sarah Palin was ever asked why she decided to go back to work after her children were born.

It definitely makes me wonder.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

California Dreamin' - Day Three

Continuing with my California Dreamin vacation series.....

After our nice drive up the PCH and past Santa Barbara, we ended up at a resort on the oceans at Pismo Beach. It is a really nice beach area fairly close to the town of San Luis Obispo. The beach has a really nice boardwalk and pier type of area where we had a BBQ dinner. It's very touristy here so there are lots of ice cream stores, candy stores, and souvenier shops.

After dinner we walked toward the beach and found a candy store where they sell all kinds of chocolates and salt water taffy. Silly me thought salt water taffy was only popular on the East Coast. Anyway, this particular store also sold chocolate covered bugs. That's right...BUGS. We were fascinated and thought why not try some bugs. So the older boys and husband tried chocolate covered scorpions while I played it safe and went for the worms. Both were really no big deal. In fact it just tasted like crunchy chocolate.

We moved along and watched the sunset off the pier and it was quite beautiful but very COLD. I could not believe how cold it was for an August day.

After much needed rest, we woke up the next morning and enjoyed a nice leisurely morning at the hotel. We mapped out the day and husband suggested that we might want to venture over to the sand dunes. Curiously I said yes not really knowing what to expect. After a fairly short drive we drove down the highway and saw signs for the sand dunes. This venture took us on the beach where we literally drove on the beach (I thought that you could only do that in Daytona) and then to a trailer that sold dune buggy rides.

After a quick education and $250/hour, my older boys and husband decided to give it a try. Geared up in helmets and safety belts, the kind dune buggy guy strapped them in and they were on their way. While they were out dune-buggying, I stayed on the frigid beach with my two little munchkins trying to figure out a way to keep two little people entertained while surrounded by a mountain of sand and 40 degree beach water. We decided to sit in the sand and just play away until the older ones came back. They tell me that it was an awesome experience and that a few times on a few intimidating 40 ft sand dunes they actually were a bit afraid but said the entire experience was worth it.

After leaving Pismo Beach we enjoyed a scenic ride up the Central Coast of California. I enjoyed looking at the mountains since we don't get to see much of that kind of land in Florida. Our goal was to get to Monterey before dinner. We ended up making good time and had some time to kill so we ventured over to a nice park right near our hotel. Although I didn't take any photos while there, this little town is so quaint and cute. It was still quite cold and I still had my jacket on but we had a lot of fun at the park. We ended up retiring for the night pretty early because the agenda for the next day was going to be pretty full.

Next up: Monterey Aquarium, Pebble Beach, and the moment we all were waiting for....San Francisco!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Is This My Daughter or Hannah Montana??

First Day of School - Bittersweet

First days of school are always bittersweet...for me, anyhow. It's yet another reminder that my dumplings are growing up. It's always a day of firsts. This week it was a major first for my princess - first day of kindergarten. I have been watching her excitement grow all year long awaiting this day. We bought her uniforms, new shoes, new belt, new bookbag, new supplies box, new lunchbox, new water bottle to go in said lunchbox. I made her a new pair of earrings.

We walked her in to make sure she got to where she needed to be. We briefly met with the teacher in the cafeteria. And then the teacher gathered them all in a line and walked them to their class. My princess waved to us the entire time she could see us. She was BEAMING!. And we were crying.

And then there were the older boys. One in high school, one in middle school. It's his last year of middle school.

Next year they will be going together. Maybe even driving themselves. I shudder to think that I have only 3 more years with my oldest before college. It's not that far away. Where did the years go?

When you first have kids, people tell you that the years will fly by. I know they do and I know they will. I try to make the most of each day but that doesn't stop time. You always want to hold them and kiss them like you did when they were firstborn.

So I do what I always do. Embrace the moment and let myself cry. Because this is life.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

California Dreamin' - Day Two

Day two of our California tour found us on a leisurely drive through L.A. and toward the beaches. I then had a brilliant idea that we should meander through the town of Calabasas. Why Calabasas you ask?

Perhaps it has something to do with this...

This is the store where they film the show "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" which is one of my favorite E! celeb reality shows. I felt like a paparazzi jumping out of my car to take photos of the storefront. In reality the town is so beautiful and shows more of the country side in the mountains in LA County.

After we left Calabasas we headed over to Malibu and the Pacific Coast Highway where we were hoping to run into some stars hanging out at the beach. I am pretty sure I saw Matthew McConaughey but upon second glace it ended up being an impersonator of this character...

I don't know how I mixed the two of them up...maybe it was just my imagination wanting to see Matthew and his beach tan.

So after not seeing so many stars we continue up the PCH for a leisurely drive toward Santa Barbara. The PCH is really nice but I was not too impressed with it in the L.A. area. It looked to me like any other highway with beach on the side and with my being from Florida it didn't look much different than the beach roads I have seen all my life.

We finally make it to Santa Barbara right in time for lunch and I am really impressed with how beautiful this beach area is. The weather is picture perfect. Air temperatures are mid-70s with low humidity. The wind made it feel a bit chillier and the water temps are much colder than what I am used to here in Florida. We find the Santa Barbara pier and it was amazing to me that you can drive your car on it. We did that and found a cute restaurant to eat lunch right on the pier. After lunch we walked up and down the pier. There were tons of sailboats in the water and was such a relaxing time. We made our way down to the beach and played in the water and sand and just soaked in the California air.

After we left Santa Barbara, we continued up the PCH to a beach called Pismo Beach where we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon and evening on the boardwalk. We ended up at a little candy store on the waterfront that is known for fudge, salt water taffy, and chocolate covered bugs. Of course, we had to try some bugs so we tried worms and scorpions. I have to say that was interesting watching one of my kids chew up a scorpion but in reality they tasted like crunchy rice krispies dipped in chocolate. The night ended as we watched the sunset and then turned in to end another fun filled day on the California coast.

Stay tuned for Day Three where I will talk about our first ever dune buggy rides on the famous sand dunes at Pismo Beach and the most beautiful ride of our lives as we drive up the PCH through the mountains of Big Sur. I can see why it is called one of the nicest drives in the entire country.

Friday, August 15, 2008

First Day of School Anxiety

My precious princess is starting her first day of school this coming Monday and last night was the first night that I saw her cry about it. I asked her why she was crying and she said that she is going to miss all of her preschool friends when they all go to new schools. Even though I told her not to worry, that they will probably see each other at the preschool camp on occasion, I couldn't help but think of how we all experience this type of anxiety no matter how old we are.

I thought that all of the talking in the world with her probably won't rid her fears of the first day in a new school. After all, I am experiencing the same fears as I start a new job in a few weeks...and I am 42 years old!

I understand where she is coming from being a creature of habit myself. I like it when I know everyone and everyone knows me. I like knowing where the restrooms are. I like knowing all about my boss. I love having my same ole friends around who know all of my quirks and when to laugh at my jokes. I hate forgetting the new co-workers names because there are so many of them that I cannot keep track of them all. I hate trying to learn a new organizational chart.

I am finding a lot of similarities between me and my princess' feelings at this moment in time.

So I decided to try to help her much like I am helping myself just reminding her that it is ok to feel scared and nervous and anxious. Trying new things will always make you feel that way no matter what it is we do in life. But once you get past it your eyes will be opened to a new world filled with new people, new experiences, new friends, new tasks, new challenges and this newness will eventually become familiar once again.

It's hard to explain that to a 5 year old so I did the best job I could. And then I told her I would buy her a "lunchable" and a brownie to take to lunch on the first day. I think that is what did the trick.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

California Dreamin' - Day One

After a really nice 4 1/2 hour flight from the east coast to Long Beach, we made our way to our hotel for some much needed rest in the Los Angeles area in anticipation of our first full day at Six Flags Magic Mountain. We definitely had to move from east coast time to west coast time.

After a decent highway drive from the hotel to Magic Mountain, one thing I noticed was that it is DRY in California. The mountains are huge and beautiful but also very brown! Which probably explains why everywhere you go you see signs on conserving water. Also, in August, it is a fairly nice 80s temperature in the city but when you go to the valley where Six Flags is it gets into the upper 90s.

Six Flags was a really fun day as you can see from our picture on my new banner. I have never seen more roller coasters in my life than at this park.

If you want to see them more up close and personal go here.

In addition to the many coasters was a really awesome kids area. There were a ton of rides for the little ones including a real Thomas the Tank Engine Train! My little guy was in pure heaven.

Of course he wanted ALL of us to squeeze on this train which we did lovingly for him.

My prince and princess enjoyed the many other kids rides like the tank engine roller coaster, Tweety's bird cage ride, the spinning tea cups, the carousel, and a pounce and bounce ride. The little ones were having so much fun there that we decided to hang around for a while with them and let the big boys loose to run around on all of the roller coasters.

However, the best ride of all in kiddie land was not really a ride. It was a playground called The Looney Tune Lodge. This was a huge fun zone filled with slides and thousands of foam balls to throw all around and put in these big cannon-like devices so they can be catapulted all over. It was loads of fun and a great place for kid energy.

Overall, I would rate the experience a huge success. After all, how many theme parks can you go to and get a plate of sushi? Not many.

Day One finished with a very hot, sweaty, and tired group of people as we headed back to the hotel for a nice bath and good night sleep.

Stay Tuned for Day Two where you will hear about my paparazzi moment, our drive up the Pacific Coast Highway, and how I swear I saw Matthew McConaughey.

Back From Vacation

We are finally back from a very long and fun-filled vacation that took us all the way across the country to the great state of California. Our plane just landed at 5:30 this morning and boy am I tired. I have to choose between the 10 loads of laundry that await me or sleep off some of this jet lag.

There will be weeks of blogging to come on the trip with lots of pictures! Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Why Do They Call This Yoga?

I went to my first yoga class this morning. I think they need to rename this to "Body Pretzel Twisting" which is how I felt before, during, and after. The instructor says "just put your right leg over here, your left leg over there and twist your arms back there" and I am thinking "how exactly are the human bones supposed to twist in this manner" until I look around and see other women doing it. Ugh, I think, I have given birth to 4 children through my hoo-ha so surely I can get into this plank position. Well that was the easy part. Staying there and balancing on one foot with both arms over my head for 20 minutes was the challenge.

In the end I got through it and I want to continue...not because I am a masochist (well I am sort of) but because I want to be able to master getting both of my legs behind my head. I just love a challenge.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Come Visit My New Store

It took me a while but I am so excited to be showing off my latest creation.

I am going to work hard on building it up and then advertising it. I have a feeling there are going to be a lot of craft and jewelry shows in my future and I am going to enjoy blogging my adventures here.

Also, as promised my premiere sidebar widget has changed and is now showing my new store line.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lost Highway

Tonight Bon Jovi is in New York for their last concert for this season. So on behalf of the Jersey Boys I am embedding one of my favorite current videos.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Another Fine Tour Ends

If you have visited my blog in the past few months you have surely seen the widget to the right. It's my featured link to the tour schedule for Bon Jovi. Every day when I visit my blog I notice that list shrink. Now they are down to only two more concerts and eventually my widget will need to be replaced with a new feature. I have been working hard (but not hard enough) at my replacement widget so stay tuned this week to find out what it is.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I Am Not A Runner

I have been thinking about my insane decision to sign up for another marathon next year. It will be my second. If you weren't catching my blog earlier this year, I posted incessantly about my first half-marathon. Now after taking several months off and waiting on a clean bill of health, I have decided to get back into some sort of training.

But I am really NOT a runner at all. I know this. I don't know strategy. I have a pretty big butt and flat feet. These two characteristics do not exactly make for a runners body. But I am a goal setter and I have determination so I like to think that those two things can help carry me through some training and an actual race. Well, at least they did last time and I did finish! In the middle of the pack too, I might add.

So as I threw my body on the scale last week, it confirmed what I had already known. I need to lose at least 10-15 pounds before I get into a running schedule. Not a problem! Just set goals and get determined, right?

So I laid out a really aggressive exercise plan that takes me to the gym 5 days a week with one of those days being yoga for an hour and then bootcamp for another hour. I also laid out a pretty aggressive 1200 calorie-a-day meal plan.

I am not sure how I will incorporate this plan into my blog but I will figure it out as I go.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Mark Your Calendar

For This!

I just got a big thumbs up from my doctor and passed my physical with flying colors...everything from an extensive blood workup (had to add B Complex to the list of daily vitamins) to EKG to nuclear stress test to heart ultrasound and echo.

It feels good to be back exercising like I used to once again.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Why Sports Is Cool

I am not a huge tennis watcher but I watched all day today because I love to see an underdog win.

On a separate note, how cool is it that a 41 year old mom beat out a bunch of young pups at a shot at another Olympic medal. I also love that at the end of her race she couldn't see the scoreboard because of her aging eyesight. I can so relate. She is my new hero.

Friday, July 4, 2008


I was recently watching a talk show and stumbled upon a conversation they were having about these.

The hostess said that if you buy them frozen and then boil them up, throw a bit of salt on them, they are a delicious snack and so nutritious for you. I have been thinking that my choices of snacks lately are not very health conscious so perhaps I should give it a try.

I found a few bags of these frozen pods and cooked up a handful and threw the salt on. They are so delicious. I can't believe I have gone all this time without them.

Now I enjoy them as a delicious snack after work and before dinner knowing that they are rich in vitamins and fiber and extremely low in calories. Give them a try!

Bon Appetit.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Back Home

It's always a real treat to take those types of vacations where you can just sit back, relax, and regenerate the senses. We have been doing this every summer for the past 5 years now and it never gets dull. It's just a short 13 hour hop in the car from our house to the foothills of South Carolina and I love it on Lake Keowee. Everyone has their share of fun and my fun is breathing in clean air and dipping myself in clean lake water.

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