Our family secret should probably be kept secret..uh oh!

I need some humor today and maybe you do as well so thought I would share a little family secret I discovered while cleaning out the garage last summer.

Every summer we clean out the garage at least once or twice.  And EVERY time we find time to do it is on the hottest day of year.  Oh and we also buy into the myth that it won’t take that long.  Riggghhhtttt.

So one steamy day last summer  I agreed to help my husband get a few things out of the garage so he could move the  cars around.

Nine..yes count them NINE hours later we had one clean garage, two trips to the dump and two to the thrift store.

If anyone needs to confirm that I am a few tacos short of a combination plate this feat alone should seal the deal.

We found quite a few interesting things:

  • a dead lizard ( I smelled it before I saw it)
  • several squished frogs ( or were they toads???)
  • lots of things we had been looking and still have no idea how they ended up in the garage ( trying to escape?)
  • AND the kitchen sink

No seriously…we did find a sink:

 

And then I found multiples of one thing  that says more about our family than anything.  When I discovered them I just stared in amazement.  I could understand one or two maybe but FIVE??? Were we secret hoarders?  Were we planning on outfitting a frat house (guys needs these way more often than women), was clogzilla going to pay us a visit? Did we have a secret fear about this??

What did I find???  Drum roll:

Five  toilet plungers!!  If the poopalypse ever happens we are prepared.  ( This does not count the two or three we have in the house)

I didn’t come across them one at a time, that would make too much sense.  I found them mingling together  in a big  bucket along with a missing kitty litter scoop ( evidently the cat is in on it as well).

So a couple of thoughts crossed my mind.  Who put them in the bucket?  Wouldn’t someone comment ( that would be you Paul) or make it known ” Hey Jennifer, we are all set on plungers! Let’s invite everyone over for five alarm chili. No worries we can take care of both ends!!”

Here is the other mystery.  When we built this house  we got to choose the plumbing and we chose TOTO toilets capable of flushing 100 golf balls all day every day with no clogging. So no plungers needed.  Well almost.  I have to admit that 3 weeks after we moved in someone who shall remain nameless called and asked where we kept the plunger.  1 time in 10 years isn’t so bad.

So I must concede that we must be super poopers.  Well at least some of us are.  Okay that might be TMI but it is the only conclusion I can come to after this mysterious find.

Our family secret is out…oh the puns I could make with that one line!

We have yet to clean the garage out this summer but I know it’s coming.  I am afraid, very afraid!!

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A little crazy yes but this “new” writing tool is awesome!

Before you think I have totally lost it read the whole post and then you will “get it”!

So one of the things my husband and I love to do is go to auctions.  Sometimes we buy stuff sometimes we don’t but it’s usually a good time and we see some interesting things.  I go mostly to keep Paul from buying something just because it’s a “good deal”, as in” Um no we do not need that Krispy Kreme Donut Cart”!   Novelty yes, useful no.  That’s one of many examples that come to mind.  Plus we still have my parents’ house to unload and that pretty much kills our desire to want to add anything new to our possession collection

We needed a break  one week-end  from house stuff, paperwork..pretty much life in general so we went to an auction/estate sale. Of course we picked the hottest Saturday of the year and it was an outside auction.

How this guy got all this stuff into his little house is beyond me.  So much stuff.  Made my parents’ basement look like just a few things ( trust me it’s not).  Most of it was collectible toys, Nascar stuff..nothing that would much interest me so I started to wander around the yard ( 4 outbuildings with stuff and more items in the yard).  I tell you it was like a scene from American Pickers..they would have loved it.

No kitchen sink but a bathtub!

So amidst the rusted bathtubs, old bikes and such was a pristine, almost new in box Olympia Portable Typewriter  It was just sitting in the grass being totally ignored.  So I kept walking by it, intrigued.  It had me at first glance!

My husband couldn’t believe I wanted to bid on it.  He thought I was crazy …  yup thats me!  So just for grins I took it up to be auctioned off and got it for a whopping sum of $10.

As we are lugging it back to the car ( that sucker is heavy) I wondered what I had done but when I got it home I made some interesting discoveries.

Surprisingly the ribbon was still good.  I doubt this guy ever opened the case.  More importantly I was having fun with it.  Yes it took longer than  a laptop and there was no way to correct mistakes but guess what?  The only thing I can do on that thing is write.  There was no urge to check facebook, or email or shop at Amazon.  No looking up facts or photos I could use.  It was the perfect no distraction writing tool.

A manual typerwriter is the perfect no distraction writing tool!… Click To Tweet

It does have two problems.  One it’s incredible noisy.  I think this is why writers found it better to be alone in some secluded room or at a cabin in the mountains.  I really could not write into the night without keeping everyone awake.  And though it claims to be a “portable” typewriter in reality it’s not.

I entertained myself with the thought of lugging it into Starbucks and writing on it.  They would probably throw me out.  Perfect Seinfeld episode where Kramer tells everyone typewriters are making a comeback and pretty soon all the coffee shops are filled with typewriters driving everyone else crazy.  Makes me laugh just thinking about it.

The other positive is it makes me think about all the writers before me who only had this to write on..kinda cool.  Think about all the war correspondents who lugged something like this around.  Good exercise for sure.

Yes anything I write on it will eventually have to be put on the computer but there is no danger of me accidentally deleting it, and no dependency on the internet or electricity.  Seriously though everything anyone writes goes through several rewrites anyways so what’s the big deal?

I won’t write everything on it and I certainly won’t be lugging it on an airplane but for now I am having fun and enjoying the distraction free writing.  Probably the best 10 bucks I have spent in a long time.

Oh and my husband still thinks I’m crazy…good thing he loves crazy!  🙂

 

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So what do I do??

I imagined this scene the other day where I was at a dinner party and someone asked me ” So what do you do?”

In my somewhat twisted mind that is a bit of a loaded question. I could answer everything from “well I walk my dog everyday”  to “I’m a nurse” to  ( if I really feel like being a smart ass)  “I “do” lots of things like sleep, eat, drink, laundry, dishes……”  Yet I know in reality and in my imagined scene they were asking what I do for work and I reply “I am a writer”and this person says:

“Oh really?  And would I be familiar with any of your works?”  “What have you written?” Not that ANY of my friends talk like that and it was recently suggested to me that if they do I need to get new friends but lets move on.

Of course they are expecting me to name a book  they can find on Amazon or in their local Barnes & Noble, or a magazine article or some newspaper byline  but in reality my answer would be ( again with a touch of smart ass)  ” Well lets see I’ve written tons of grocery and to-do lists, papers for school, permission slips for kids and nurses notes but I doubt you would find any of those on Amazon

“Oh and I blog.”

Finally a somewhat plausible answer to that question. In reality the real answer is “I am a writer other because I write.” I write for pleasure, for the joy of it,for personal soothing,as a release and because I love creating sentences out of words. Just because you can’t find me in Barnes & Noble doesn’t mean I am not a writer. I am a writer because I write. End of story….pun intended just so I can entertain myself!

It is the same with running (or whatever you favorite activity is). I am a runner because I run. When people ask me about a race as in “How did you do”  I use to think they were asking for my race results and I would hesitate and stumble over my answer and the words “slow” and “not very good” often punctuated the sentences I managed to form.

I quit doing that awhile back when I realized that my finishing time did NOT matter. What mattered was I did the race or the daily run and I was out there running. So the answer I always give now to “How was the race?” is “It was great! ” “I had a blast and I’m so glad I did it!” Sometimes people will clarify their question. “No I mean what was your finishing time?” And I say truthfully “I have no idea!” “I started, I finished and I had fun!” If they keep talking I keep walking!

So claim your answer to whatever it is you do! If you bike you are a cyclist, if you write you are a writer. Whatever it is you do that brings… Click To Tweet

Do fill your paper with the “breathings of your heart” or your belly if it is a grocery list..or fill the air with your beautiful music, or your soul with poetry…as Nike says “Just do it”

And don’t forget to have fun while you are doing it and above all else you have my permission to channel your inner smart ass when answering that question “What do you do?”

Now go out and tri!

 

 

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Update on My Year of Wonder!!

Wow this year is flying by!!  On January 4th of this year I wrote a post about My Year of Wonder Project.  You can read the original post here !

Here it is March 14th and I seriously can’t believe everything I have learned from this simple project.  For the last 69 days I have taken and posted a photo to my Instagram account  representing My Year of Wonder.  I have to admit I missed a few days while on vacation and I am busy catching up but not beating myself up over it because that sort of thing happens.  This was never meant to stress me out or be a chore.  It was and is intended to keep my word of the year “Wonder” in front of me and help me stop, pause, and appreciate all the beauty and wonder around me.

Some days I really wondered ( no pun intended) if something, anything would show up for me.  Max ( the famous goofy golden) and I would walk pretty much the same walk every day and most days something would just pop out at me.  Other days nothing would pop but I remained patient and sure enough something would appear that was just right for my Instagram post.

Yesterday’s post came to me in the kitchen and is one of my favorites because there is something so soothing about snapping green beans.

Other favorites include a rainy day that I dreaded going out in and it ended up being delightful!

 

And a snapshot of a letter my parents found that my husband had written to them while on a Navy Deployment and our second baby was due to arrive hopefully after he returned ( she waited for him to come home thankfully!)

And another of cloud lines that were just begging to be written on!

I could go on and on and nobody is more surprised than I am about how delightful this so called “exercise” has become and how much I enjoy it.

Feel free to start you own “Year of Wonder” project.  Or just enjoy mine on Instagram!

Keep wondering and keep triing!

 

 

 

 

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My year of Wonder!!!

Every year for about the past 5 years or so I have picked a word of the year.  One year it was “inspire”.  My intention was not only to inspire others but to inspire myself.  In 2016 my word was “focus”.  I wanted to focus on what was really important in my life.  I also think the underlying intention was to help me set boundaries with the big black hole of the internet and social media.

This year I thought for sure, hands down, positively that my word would be “fearless”.  I intended to use the word to give me even more courage to try new things and do them fearlessly.

And yet it wasn’t fitting somehow.  My mind wiggled around it much like someone wiggles in an itchy wool sweater.  It was a great word, it fit..sort of but it still wasn’t quite right.

January 1st I woke up excited about the new year.  Excited or excitement sounded like a really good word of the year.  That lasted a couple of hours until I realized I had donned that itchy wool sweater again and I started to twitch a bit and knew it didn’t fit.

Another word came to me that morning and it ended up being the right one in so many ways.  It fit a new project I was starting.  It fit my desire to be more present every single moment and it also fit my desire to have a my feet dangling in that black hole of social media, electronics and the internet but not get sucked in every minute of every day.

And the word is  ( drum roll) :

WONDER

I believe it has been lurking in my mind for awhile but was not wanting itself to be known just yet.  You see every morning I walk this goof ball for about 1 1/2 miles around the neighborhood.

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Max

Our neighborhood has wide streets with lots of trees, bunnies, deer, and wooded lots that all those critters can hide in.  It never fails ,even though I have been on this walk literally hundreds of times ,that I see something new.

BUT only if I pay attention.

When I do slow down and take it all in I am always amazed that I somehow I have walked past this sight and  I start to look for more things I might have missed.  It puts me in a state of wonder.

Wonder is definitely my word for 2017 and it is also the theme for my new project:

            “My Year of Wonder”

Starting on Jan 4th I will be posting a photo each day for a year on Instagram.  Each photo will be taken that day and my hope is that it will do a couple of things.

  • remind me to slow down and be present in the moment
  • renew my sense of wonder  each day
  • help me find gratitude and joy in the things and people around me
  • make the people who see these photos smile and encourage them to find the beauty surrounding them

I can’t promise the photos will be earth shattering pieces of art but they will be authentic, original and shared with a smile.

So one last thing.  Why January 4th??  Well, its the best day ever for me!  It’s my Birthday and if you know me you know I love my birthday..always have.  And I am starting a new decade of my life so what better way to start than with  a sense of Wonder!!   I just have to tri!!!   Enjoy!

P.S.  You can find me on Instagram as jennifebross . Please note that at the time when I created my Instagram account  I obviously could not spell my own name and left off the r in Jennifer…cracks me up and Instagram is a bit of a stinker when you try to change things so it will remain the way it is..just going with the flow!

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Living Single While Very Married… The Mystery of the Burnt Out Bulb..

Any of you fans of Nancy Drew when you were growing up?  I was and at least one of those books kept me up one night scared to death.  I read “The Ghost of Blackwood Hall” one warm summer night in the back bedroom of my grandparents farmhouse.  All the adults were downstairs and I could hear their voices drift up the back staircase and yet when I finished the book and turned out the lights every single noise scared me.  From the big clock ticking in the hallway to the old  furniture creaking as it adjusted to the heat. Yes old furniture contracts and expands as the weather changes and voices its  opinion of the warm non air-conditioned  house by making very scary noises.  Well at 10 years old they scared me.

I survived the night but never read another mystery late at night and all these years later I still remember that book vividly.img_1204

Fast forward to the present day and I discovered I had my own mysteries to solve right here at my house.  Not as scary as the ghost in the old mansion but almost as perplexing.

With Paul busy learning the ropes of his new job many miles away I had lots of projects to get done as well as keep up with house.  Strange things started to happen.  The lighting just wasn’t the same, my car started looking like a Christmas tree with all the lights that blinked on the dashboard, laundry took forever, cabinet doors were open and I kept cracking my head on them and the yard was out of control.

To be honest the funniest one was the light bulbs…I saw many had burnt out and I meant to change them, really I did but for some reason I didn’t.  It took me awhile to figure out why I was waiting and this time it just wasn’t the procrastination gene I inherited.

The mystery was easy to solve.  All of these antiviral things and many more were all things that Paul took care of and either I never noticed or it just wasn’t on my radar to do.  The light bulbs go out all the time but he is so quick to change them that I never bothered.

The car maintenance was also his deal and we both dropped the ball on getting it inspected ( a nice military officer informed me it was 4 months overdue and no I couldn’t get on base with an expired inspection sticker..yikes)! How I escaped getting a ticket is yet another mystery.

The cabinet doors..well I have a really bad habit of not closing them and Paul always closed them if I forgot.

The laundry..well he always helped, especially with the folding.  I sure wish someone would invent a folding and put away machine.  As for the yard..no matter how hard I tried it just didn’t look as good as when he did it..I managed and it was a good work out but not my forte.

Changing the light bulbs just reminded me that he would not be home to do it for a long time.  The other stuff gave me new appreciation for all he does around here that I did not notice.

Many people thought and still think we were crazy to do this living single while very married thing.  Maybe we are but so many good things have happened.   It has given us new appreciation for the little things we do each day to help each other out.  It gave us a taste for life without each other ( no thanks!)  and our love and commitment to each other has grown.

I can’t say I can recommend doing this to strengthen your relationship but I can tell you that noticing the little things he or she does for you, the family and the house will make you smile and love your special guy or gal even more!

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Living Single While Very Married! The first of many good-byes…

After our very long road trip to get Paul to his new job the day we were dreading arrived.  No matter how many times we have done this, saying good-bye never gets easy.

I stood in the airport trying not to feed into my fear and uncertainty.  We had no idea how long this would last, how often we would see each other, if he would like the job, or if it would just be too much for the both of us.

What had we done?

The list of unknowns grew exponentially and I finally had to put it out of my mind or I was going to go crazy.

I thought back to our very first real good-bye when we were  at the ripe old ages of 21 and 22 yrs. He headed to flight school and I headed back to college. It was hard enough then but we did have the advantage of a pretty solid time frame and a date when we knew we would be together forever.

Navy deployments followed, along with TDY’s ( temporary duty assignments) and other things that kept us apart.

One thing remained constant.  We always dreaded the good-byes.  The last hug, the last kiss, the promise to write ( calling was not always an option, no cell phones or even computers back then) and the hope that time would go quickly.

Thirty years later and we were back to where we started.

So we hugged and said good-bye, took some deep breaths and I boarded the plane and started this new unknown adventure.

Three  things I knew for sure:

I loved Paul enough to let him go pursue his dream.

He loved me enough to understand that I needed to stay.

And the one  other constant with all these separations that we always looked forward to…

The “hello’s” are ever so delicious!!

I don’t have any photos of our goodbyes and only one of our hello’s but it remains a favorite.  At Barbers Point Naval Air Station, Oahu , Hawaii  Feburary 1984..a few days away from being a family of four!

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Living Single While Very Married: On the road again…sharing a seat and a laugh with George and Gregory Peck!

So a little over 2 years ago we began this adventure.  It has had it’s up and downs and we are ready for new adventures of “Living Together While Very Married” !  That is what we both signed up for but we keep hitting the replay button on this “Living Single While Very Married”   What?  Nobody is more surprised than we are and fingers crossed we will end this journey in 2016…BUT in the meantime let me catch you up.

So Paul took his “dream” job and I am keeping  the home fires burning here on the East Coast.  We had ( still do) really great reasons for doing this and there have been some really good things that have come from this arrangement.  There have also been some really difficult times and despite seeing each other as often as possible we miss each other tons.

One of the first parts of this was our road trip to get Paul to his new job.  Flying is great but there is nothing like a road trip to really see the country.

As we made our way across the United States we had fun seeing family in Ohio and Michigan/Indiana ( also known as Michiana) and we made my one requested stop to my childhood stomping grounds of LaGrange, Il just outside of Chicago.  I spent my “wonder years” there and still love the place.  As kids we had such freedom and walked EVERYWHERE ( school, the movies, shopping)  In the summer we left to go play and we were lucky if our parents could get us in for dinner.  Good times.

623 S. Kensington Ave LaGrange, IL

My “Wonder Years” home..good memories!

As we left Illinois and ventured onto RT 80 in Iowa we discovered some really interesting and fun places.

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Just in case we weren’t sure what road we were on!

We, of course had to stop at the “The World’s Largest Truck Stop”  Paul  heard a rumor they served the world’s largest hamburger ( his favorite meal) but turns out it was just a rumor.  Still it was fun.  Here are a few photos:

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Just in case we forgot where we were

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And just what you need to find at the World’s Largest Truckstop!

 

My  favorite stop was “The Wilton Candy Kitchen” ( not to be confused with the Wilton Cake Company)  I had envisioned antidepressants this quaint little town, bustling with visitors and a busy old fashioned candy and ice cream parlor.

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Not exactly what I had envisioned..but I loved it!

Well I got it partially right.  We drove through Wilton, IA and the town looked like it was on vacation and the Candy Kitchen appeared to be closed.  I got out to take photos and up drove Thelma and George….the proprietors.  Thelma was busy bustling around, complaining about George ( in a humorous way) and was out the door before we knew it with ice cream sodas for some good friends.

George had worked in the Candy Kitchen since he was 6..he was 93 when we met him and very entertaining.  We felt like we stepped back in time.  I was wondering if  Sheriff Taylor, Barney Fife and Aunt Bee were nearby.

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I swear Barney Fife is near by!

We ordered some ice cream sodas and watched as George operated the machinery like he was still 6 years old.

They were very proud of their famous celebrity guests  Gregory Peck and Brooke Shields.

I even got a photo behind the counter with George but first I had to promise him that I would never tell Thelma he allowed me behind the counter.  Evidently Thelma wore the ice cream pants in this family.

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George really loved serving up ice cream!

It also looks like she had no problem having Gregory Peck behind the counter!!!

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We asked George to take a few photos…I think the digital camera threw him off a bit but he gave it a good shot.

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I was a little sad to leave and promised myself we would stop by when we made the trip back in a few years.

Sadly if we do get to stop George will not be there.  He is now serving ice cream to all the angels.

It would have been easy to just blow through Iowa and not stop anywhere and make a beeline for Paul’s new stomping grounds.  So happy we took the time to see the sights and meet the people.

We only spent an hour or so with George and Thelma but I smile each time I think of them.  I might have to go out and have some ice cream in George’s memory.  Won’t be as good as his homemade ice-cream but I can pretend!

As always keep triing!

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Oops…You were probably wondering why we are “Living Single While Very Married”

Nothing like writing a post in your mind and thinking you had published it.  Shhh don’t tell my kids or they will think its time to put Mom in a home.

I have been living and writing a bit about “Living Single While Very Married” for so long that I actually forgot to post WHY we are doing this crazy thing at this time in our lives.

Many thanks to my friend Barbara who has read many of my posts and finally asked “did you ever tell us why you are doing this?”  Thinking I had I quickly went through all my posts to find the right one to send her.  Except…..it is NOT there.

uh oh

So here goes..it is actually quite simple.  An opportunity came up for Paul for the “almost” perfect job.  It was with the same company, a promotion ( no raise but a promotion) and it was exactly what he wanted to do.  The “almost” perfect part is that it is not where we live. Not even close.

So I gave him my blessing to take the job while I kept the home fires burning.  Was I crazy?  A little.  However I am also a seasoned hair loss military wife, pretty independent and admittedly addicted to my incredibly adorable grandkids ( of course they are adorable) so it made sense for me to stay here.  There were other practical reasons.  Some financial, some because this is where we want to retire and just other reasons unique to us.

So there you have it.   We are almost two years into it and I can say that its not been the easiest thing I’ve done but not the hardest.  I have learned so much (who knew I could run a power washer?) and come to appreciate all the things Paul usually does without me noticing.  Replacing  burned out light bulbs has been an interesting one.  Turns out there is no “light bulb fairy” who magically replaces all the light bulbs.  Who knew?

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I’m a little behind in my posts about this.  I need to catch everyone up so please be patient.  At least now you know “why” we are living single while very married.  I have lots of adventures to share with you so hang on.

And as always..keep triing!

 

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Back to reality “Living Single While Very Married”

After a week of a little bit of normal (if you missed our little bit of normal read it here) we are back to reality.  Well almost back. It will take a few days to get use to the quiet house and to get back into my regular routine.

One thing that never changes. Saying “goodbye” sucks and it just seems to be getting worse. Yesterday as I was preparing the “last supper” I texted my best friend this:IMG_3114

So a few clarifications about this “screen shot”  My skills at this are not great, I couldn’t figure out how to edit it and even I have my limits as to when “happy hour” starts and it is NOT at 10:35 am..omg.( That is when I took the screen shot NOT when I sent the text!) Although my grandfather would argue you that point. He died at 92 yrs young so maybe he does have a point about when happy hour starts. 🙂 By the way “swill” is what my BFF claims is the kind of wine I drink. I am in no way a wine connoisseur and what can I say, I like cheap wine because cheap or expensive it all tastes the same to me!

Obviously Paul and I were both dreading the goodbye but we managed as we always do. Although we have an awesome airport that makes it easy to park and say goodbye in the airport it usually blood pressure works better for us if we do it curb side. It’s a little quicker and just a tad less painful..maybe.

Retail therapy might have been on the agenda if the stores were open at that hour but no such luck.

And just like that old phrase “don’t kiss and tell”  I don’t “Donut splurge and tell”  If one or two donuts jumped into my car as I passed the amazing donut place on the way home..well those are the only hitchhikers I am even tempted to pick up. Not that it happened. 🙂

My big “WIN” for this trip home is Paul realized it really was worthwhile to pay someone else to power wash the house. We both come from a long line of Do it Yourselfers (if that is even a word) but sometimes it just is smarter to get someone else to climb on the roof!

My other confirmation is that my guardian angel is alive and well and keeping me safe..more about that in another post.

In the meantime Max (the endless shedding dog) and I have some deer and rabbits to chase on our daily walk.

I will leave you with my new favorite saying from a print from Curly Girl Designs :

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and a photo from our quick trip to the beach!FullSizeRender (4)

Keep triing…it’s what makes life interesting!

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