Thursday, December 5, 2013

It's My Party...

Tomorrow is my 35 birthday.... Half way to 40. Not sure exactly how I feel about that. I do know how I feel about my birthday as a general rule though, and it's not good. 

When my mom came home from the hospital the last time, the doctors told us she would most likely have a burst of energy for a bit right before the body started to shut down. She did. We had almost 2 good great weeks of conversation & time spent together. For almost two weeks she was able to walk herself around the house and do some things on her own, she even went back to sleeping with my dad in their room instead of the hospital bed that was set up for her in our living room.  

My birthday was on a Sunday that year. We had dinner and had the family & some friends over for cake. We sat next to each other, we shared cake and coffee (tea for me!) and had a few laughs. It was the first time in my life that I received a birthday card filled out by my dad. It was also the last birthday card I would ever get signed "love, mom & dad". I had no idea that that day would be the last day I would be able to have real conversation with my mother.

The very next day she was like a completely different person. She was lethargic, unable to move on her own, her speech was unrecognizable... I think it was a combination of the disease and the morphine, but the difference was astounding. For the next two weeks we watched her deteriorate. She became a shell of her former self. All the life in her, her beautiful spirit, just faded away. 

I like to think that she held on to that energy just to celebrate with me one last time, and I am so grateful for that. The flip side of that is that now my birthday will always be about "the last time". The last time we sat at our table together, the last time we ate together, the last time we really talked, my last birthday together... and I know I shouldn't let my mind wander there, that it's not what mom would want; and yet I can't help myself. I can't help but imagine what the last 15 birthdays would have been like if she had been here to celebrate them with me. I can't help but feel that I hate December and everything it stands for. I can't help but wish I could bring her back. 



That's my pity party for today...

Hopefully tomorrow will be better.  


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Friday, November 8, 2013

Friday's Letters


Dear Baby M - I cannot believe you are 2 years old already! Where did the time go? I can remember your tiny little fingers & toes and sweet baby smell like it was yesterday. You are growing and changing so much every single day, and I am constantly amazed by how much you know. You are so very sweet, and also so very sassy - just like me. I cherish every day with you, because I know that before we know it you will have traded in snuggles with mommy & daddy for Starbucks with your girlfriends... all the mundane things that seem so trivial right now because they are a part of our day-to-day; coloring, reading stories together, bath time - I will miss those one day. I wonder what you will be like as a teenager, as a woman... where will you go to college, what kind of man will you marry, will you have lots of kids of your own? I have so many hopes and dreams for you, my love; and I know you will have so many of your own. I will be here with you every step of the way, helping you achieve those dreams. I love you so very much, my sweet girl, and I look forward to what the next year will bring. 




Dear Retail - Quit it with the Christmas commercials, advertisements, sales... NEWSFLASH! Thanksgiving hasn't happened yet! Get back to me on 11/29!




Dear Hot Chocolate - It's nice to have you back, I've missed you! PS - I may be leaving you for DD red velvet latte... 




Dear Mother Nature - Please, please, please don't make it too cold tomorrow morning! I'm doing another 5K, and I really don't want to freeze my a$$ off! K, thanks! 


Dear Veterans - Thank you so much for all you have sacrificed to protect our great nation. The selflessness you and your families display as a part of our Armed Forces is unparalleled, and my family and I are so very grateful for your service. We are also thankful for the day off to honor you.




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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Baby M Turns 2!!!!

It's hard to believe that just 2 short years ago we were anxiously awaiting the arrival of our little princess. I say this mostly because it's hard to imagine our lives without her in it now that she's here. 

I worried a lot when I was pregnant that I wouldn't have enough room in my heart for all the boys and a new baby. I wondered how all the pieces would fit together, how I would find enough of myself to go around. 

I had some complications after my delivery, so I wasn't able to hold her right away... In fact, it was hours before I held that precious girl in my arms - but I knew from the moment they placed her on my chest that there would be no trouble making room for her in my heart, that with her here our family was complete. Clearly all the men in her life felt the same way :)




Every day this girl amazes us with her sweetness and her kind heart. She is also a spitfire like her mother, so her sass always keeps us on our toes. Combine these two things with all funny things she says, and there is never a dull moment in our house with M around. It has been a pleasure getting to know her as she has grown from a baby into a toddler and started to come into her personality. As difficult as it can be with her testing the limits and wanting to do literally EVERY. SINGLE. THING. on her own, this is my favorite age so far. 

This past Saturday at 12:12 am our baby girl turned 2 years old. We started celebrating from the moment she woke up, and didn't stop until Sunday night! We all had a blast! Good times with good friends and family, this was the theme for M's birthday weekend. 

Friday night before I went to sleep I set out all her presents in front of the fireplace with a bunch of balloons. I wanted that to be the first thing she saw when she woke up in the morning. 






Her brothers had a doctor appointment in the morning, so when they got back we all headed to our local mall for lunch and a special trip to Build-a-Bear Workshop for the birthday girl. Stuffed animals are her favorite, so she LOVES it there. After a few hours minutes of debate, she picked out a My Little Pony, 
who she lovingly named Rainbow. 





She had so much fun filling up Rainbow's heart with special traits, stuffing her, and giving her a "bath". Then we made the birth certificate and the big screen behind the cash register lit up with a special birthday message for our girl. 
She loved that, once we told her what it said! 

After Rainbow was boxed up and ready to go we headed home to get ready for the PARTY! We had a few friends and family at the local gymnastics gym, All American Gymnastics, to celebrate. It was great because they had everything there. The entertainment, the food, the cake, they even had goodie bags! Of course I didn't realize they provided the goodie bags, and got some personalized goodies from my friend Amanda at AmandArt. She's awesome! 
M had the best time running around with her little friends. I think the trampoline was her favorite, but they also let her fly on the trapeze at the end and she really loved that! 





Then we had cake, and after that the family came back to our house to open presents. She had a good time with that too! 




I made those really cool candy corn cupcakes that have been circulating all over FaceBook, and of course didn't take any pictures of them. Another blogger FAIL! 
They came out really good though, & they tasted delicious. After presents we sang happy birthday again, this time to M and her Uncle E who shares the same birthday.

Once all the company was gone we all snuggled up on the couch and watched Monsters University. Jay and I didn't really love it, but the boys thought it was hysterical. 

Sunday we vegged out for most of the day, watched the Jet game and played with all of M's new toys. Then we headed out to Chili's for one last birthday celebration for M and her birthday buddy Uncle E. We had to wait even though we had called ahead, but the manager gave us a bunch of free stuff so that made up for it. The food was great and the company was even better. Usually M gives a hard time eating when we are out but she ate her entire meal and then some. Then we sang happy birthday one last time with some super delicious ice cream and skillet chocolate chip cookies (yum!), and some spiced pumpkin molten cake (double yum!) for the birthday uncle :) 

YUM!

DOUBLE YUM!

All in all, it was a great weekend. I still can't believe our baby girl is 2 years old. She is always learning and growing, and teaching me something new honestly, so I'm really looking forward to what the next year will bring.


Happy Hump Day All!!!


Hope the rest of your week goes quickly!



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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

We've been busy!!! A little of this & that...


I have been such a slacker with my posts. I know, I know. Major blogger FAIL. But....

We have been SO BUSY!!!!

I am a week behind, but I'm going to fill you all in anyway!

When I left you last I was getting ready to do my first 5K. The good news is, I DID IT!!! Not only did I finish, but I ran the entire thing, and I did it with a personal record for myself of 33.01, 10.39/M. My fastest mile so far has been 10.15, but that was only one mile, so this was a pretty big deal for me. 




I was so excited to see my hubs and kiddos when I ran across that finish line, but of course it didn't quite work out the way I had planned it. I thought I would come back that Monday after and write a great blog post with tons of pictures of my sweaty ass zipping across the finish... but what's that saying? We plan, God laughs.... 
Jay was standing a little before the finish because there was a curve and he wanted to see me coming, only he didn't! I ran right past him and he didn't see me! Even though I was wearing florescent orange in honor of the pumpkin 5K! So, I have no pictures of my first official finish :( 
Last year when we walked, there was a professional photographer who you could purchase the pictures from. Of course I didn't buy any then. This year because I am dying for that picture, I still haven't heard anything. That would be my luck!

Thankfully my dad and I took this selfie before we started, so at least I have that! 


Marianne Volpe 5K & Pumpkin Fun Run 10/26/13

I got such a rush from this 5K that I decided to do it again, this weekend!!! I think I'm addicted. I signed up for another 5K in the town next to ours. I'm hoping it won't be too cold, & I can have a similar experience. Hopefully Jay will get a picture this time!!! 


The next day Jay and I headed into the city with our best friends for any awesome grownup day out. We ate at 5 Napkin Burger, which was super yummy. Then we hit up Carlo's Cafe & Billy's Bakery for dessert. We walked everywhere, so I totally burned off the cupcake cupcakes I ate! It was really nice to have my love to myself for an entire day.



That wrapped up a totally awesome weekend, and on Monday we had baby M's 2 year birthday pics and cake smash. We did a cake smash with her last year also, and the photographer I used was so amazing, I just had to do it again this year. We haven't gotten all the pics back yet, but she did give us a sneak peak. If you are in the Long Island area, you definitely need to check out Gina Rae Miller Photography. She is amazingly talented and such a pleasure to work with! She gave us this little tid-bit, and I absolutely love it! I can't wait to see the rest!!! 


We had Halloween this year! The kids were so excited to actually get to dress up and go trick or treating this year! You don't realize how much the little things like this mean to a child until you can't actually do them. They were robbed last year by that biotch Sandy, so even though it was freezing (to me), and windy, and rainy... we braved it and hit the streets. It was worth every frigid moment to see the smiles on their faces. Of course our big guy refused to dress up, and I didn't get any pics of the other two because they went trick or treating at their mom's this year... but I have a few good shots of these two beauties :)

SuperGirl

Zombie Doctor checking out his stash while SuperGirl tries to figure out how to get some!

Such a good big brother! 
This girl was on a serious candy finding mission! 

All this led up to our girl's second birthday this past Saturday. We did lots of celebrating, and a good time was had by all... but I will leave that for another post. 


Don't forget to vote today everyone!!!


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Friday, October 25, 2013

Tomorrow is the big day!

So, this is it. 
Tomorrow is the big day. 
Eight months of training, which is kind of embarrassing because I think it usually takes most people two, but it's finally here! 

MY FIRST 5K!!! 
Can I call myself a runner after this?


So excited to run my first race, and support a great cause while I'm doing it. I'll be running in memory of my late cousin Marianne Volpe. Support the cause if you can by clicking here.

Of course the temperature has dropped 10-15 degrees in the last 4 days, and I have never run outdoors in temps less than 50, so I'm not really sure how I'm going to make it through... but I'm hoping once I start really moving I'll be okay. 

This cooler weather means a last minute trip to Kohl's tonight for some warmer running gear. Thank goodness for my 30% off coupon! Last minute shopping to be followed by relaxation with my man, who will be home tonight thanks to a day tour. We hardly ever get to spend a Friday night together, so I'm really psyched about that! 

Tomorrow also marks R's last baseball game of the fall season. I know he's sad to stop playing for now, but I'm glad we're finishing up before the cold really sets in. I'm hoping to take R & M (the boys are with their mom this weekend) to a small local fall festival after the game, and then snuggle up inside for the rest of the day. 

We are rounding out Dee's First 5K weekend with a Sunday Funday in the city with our best friends. We are hitting up 5 Napkin Burger and hopefully some super yummy cupcakes at either Baked by Melissa or Billy's Bakery for dessert!!! Hey, I earned them after all this running!!! I can't tell you all how much I am looking forward to a whole day with my love, with nothing but grown-up interaction & fattening food!!!! Some days you just need a break, you know what I mean???

Pics of last weeks pumpkin picking extravaganza and this weekends 5K festivities to follow next week....

Hope you all have a wonderful fall weekend!!!! 



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Thursday, October 3, 2013

October!


So sorry I have been MIA... AGAIN!

I recently changed positions at work, and things have been a little crazy with me having to train and get adjusted to my new digs. The change was one I requested and one that will hopefully lead to bigger and better things for me over the course of the next few years. I have already learned a lot in a short period of time, and I'm looking forward to having an impact on the students in a much different way. Although I was sad to leave my friends in my old office, change is good and I'm excited to be moving on. Hopefully this will the last time for a while, though! I'm tired of moving my things all around the building!!!!

On another note, it's OCTOBER!!!! I can't believe it. Fall is here, & Halloween time is a favorite for our family. The kids get such a kick out of all things Halloween, and Jay & I love to revel in their excitement. Over the next few weekends we will be decorating the house, pumpkin picking, choosing costumes, and carving jack-o-lanterns. There is never a shortage of things for us to do in October! We have a family tradition of going pumpkin picking with our best friends and their two little ones, and I can't wait to do it again this year.

October also marks 1 year since I met my goal weight after having baby M. It took me 11 months to lose roughly 60 pounds, and I can proudly say that I have kept that weight off for 1 year!!! 


December 2011     December 2012


May 2012          May 2013
Last year after I hit goal, I had to give myself something else to focus on as to not gain the weight right back, so I started leaning towards becoming more fit and toned. Of course it hasn't gone exactly as I planned, or as well as I had hoped, but I'm going with the saying "progress not perfection". I set a goal for myself to be able to fit back into shorts that I wore on our honeymoon by this past summer, and I was able to successfully meet that goal. Then I gave them away to good will because those babies were way too short for a mommy of 5! 

 July 2010              July 2013

I have fluctuated 3-5 pounds most of the last year, but that's probably because I'm a little looser with my eating than I probably should or could be. In spite of that, I am now 6 pounds under my goal, which gives me a total weight loss of 66 pounds since November 2011. I think that is mostly because I have amped up the exercise and as many of you know, I took up running this past spring. I was always the last one to finish the mile for the physical fitness test in school because I walked the whole thing. I never in my life imagined I could run a whole mile, let alone 3 or more! I will run my very first 5K at the end of this month, and I couldn't be more excited. I'm doing the Marianne Volpe 5K and Pumpkin Fun Run in honor of my beautiful cousin Marianne, who died 2 years ago after a long battle with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. If you'd like to donate to this worthy cause, check out here.




One of my biggest inspirations and favorite bloggers, Mama Laughlin, has been blogging a lot about how she threw away her scale. While I don't quite trust myself enough to do that just yet, I am going with that concept. For now it will be more about how I feel in my clothes and how my body looks than what the scale says. My new focus is on building and toning my muscle, and hopefully getting rid of some of the cottage cheese! GROSS! I am determined to have this be my last ride on the roller coaster of weight loss. My life has changed so drastically over the past 5 years, and I now have so many reasons to be and stay healthy & fit. 


As we get ready for November, which is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, I will be walking with my entire family on Sunday, October 13 at the Lustgarten Foundation's Pancreatic Cancer Walk in honor of my beautiful mother who passed away in 1998 after a 7 month battle with this horrific disease. This cause is very near and dear to my heart, not only because this disease took my mother from us far too young, but because it is one of the deadly forms of cancer with the smallest amount of funding for research. We need to find better treatments and ultimately, a cure. If you would like to join my family and I in the fight against pancreatic cancer, please click here.

Me & Beautiful Mommy ~ May 1998


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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Never Forget


I wasn't sure if I was going to post today... I probably should have written this one in advance.

First I want to tell you a little bit about my cousin, Christy. She should be celebrating her 41st birthday in two weeks. She won't be celebrating because her life, along with the lives of 2,976 others, were taken on September 11, 2011 by the most horrendous act of terror any of us will see in our lifetimes.

Christy died 2 weeks before her 29th birthday. She loved math, and numbers; that's what brought her to work at Marsh & Mclennan, what led her to be on the 98th floor of the North Tower on that fateful day. She also loved to dance, and to travel, and most of all - she LOVED her NY Yankees! She was beautiful and confident, and other than my own sister, she was the girl I looked up to the most growing up. I thought she was so cool, especially when she was in middle & high school and I was still just a kid. She dressed so hip, and she had so many friends, and she took Spanish in school! I thought that was so awesome then. The best part was that she always made time for her pesky little cousin. She always took the time to play board games or fashion plates with me... she always made me feel like I fit in, even though she was 6 years older. Not too long before she died we went out to a club together. We danced the night away & had an awesome time. It makes me angry that we didn't get to have more nights like that. Our time was cut too short. My aunt & uncle will never see their daughter walk down the aisle or have children, her sister will never be a maid of honor or an aunt herself... all because Christy decided to get up and go to work early that day. It is a tragedy beyond any words; and to think that 2, 976 other families suffer the same pain, that thought is almost unfathomable.

In 2001 I was finishing up my bachelors degree at Adelphi University. I never took classes before 10 am as a rule. I am NOT a morning person. It was weird when my phone rang, I guess it was around 8:50 am. It was my dad. "Turn on channel 4 he said, it seems that a small prop plane hit the Trade Center, we can see the smoke from here". My dad's office had just moved from 7 World Trade that May, to an office in Jersey City. While he missed the initial strike, he could see the rest of the events unfolding from his office window. There was lots of speculation on the news, and while we were on the phone we watched the second plane hit, he from his office window, me while watching news 4. It was the most terrifying and painful thing I have ever seen in my life. My dad told me they were evacuating his office, but that he would try calling Christy in her office before he left and I should do the same. I tried calling her office for about an hour, until the building collapse. We checked in with my aunt & uncle all day, to no avail.

I went over to my neighbors house where we watched the news together, stunned. I couldn't believe what was happening. I called in sick to work for the rest of that week. I felt physically ill. On day 3, my cousin Jen and I went into the city with a picture of Christy, searching for her and hoping she would turn up somewhere. Maybe she had amnesia & was lost. Maybe she was in a hospital somewhere and couldn't identify herself. Of course we had no luck, and what we saw there was utter devastation. The sirens, the smell and the yellow haze in the air, these are not sights or sounds or smells I will ever forget. We kept checking in, unwilling to give up hope even though we knew from the news that the hope of finding anyone alive was slim to none. We held out hope for a while, but it was eventually made painfully clear that no one could have survived the heat of that fire. The plane flew pretty much directly into her office, so the fact that they never recovered any of her remains shouldn't be a surprise, as hard as it was to deal with.

In October of 2011 my dad and I went with my aunt Rita, Uncle Greg & cousin Dawn to the memorial service the city had for the victims. There they were given a box of dirt from the rubble. It wasn't much, but at least they had something. They decided to have a memorial service for Christy later that month.  That box from the city is buried at Holy Rood cemetery, one of the only Catholic cemeteries on Long Island that would allow a burial without actual human remains. It is nice to have a place to go to lay flowers and say a prayer for my beautiful cousin, although I know she is always with me. This is evidenced in the fact that my son shares her birthday. He is a gift sent to me straight from heaven, and whenever I look at him I think of Chris & it makes me smile.

Last year I was able to take Ryan to down to Ground Zero, to the memorial, and try to teach him a little about what happened that day - all about the brave men and women who risked their lives trying to save others, and the many who are still succumbing to diseases they developed as a result of their efforts to rescue and recover their fellow man in the months and years that followed.  I found the memorial to be a beautiful place to reflect and pray for all the souls who were lost on 9/11. As much as that area represents unspeakable violence, 11 years later I found it to be a very peaceful place.



I will return to the Freedom Tower with my family when the museum opens, hopefully at the beginning of next year. I look forward to seeing how the museum will capture the spirits of all those who sacrificed on and in the wake of that day. The way the country came together as a result of these attacks on our beautiful city of NY, the Pentagon and what probably would have been The White House had it not been for those brave souls on board Flight 93, it speaks volumes to the principals that this country was founded on. I think we've gotten away from that a lot in last few years. Too much greed and politics, not enough love and prayer.

Today I remember my beautiful cousin, Christy A. Addamo, with love and sadness. I pray for her soul, and for my Aunt, Uncle and cousin who lost so much on that day. I thank God for all of the brave men and women of the NYPD, FDNY & Port Authority Police, who acted so bravely without hesitation, and pray that those who made the ultimate sacrifice will rest in peace. Most of all I pray for our great nation, that we can somehow find the unity and solidarity that we had in the wake of 9/11, that we can all come together and take care of our own. That we can spread love and kindness, and pay it forward, because if there is one thing the attacks of September 11 taught us, it's that you never know what tomorrow will bring.

 God bless, and may we NEVER FORGET 9/11/01.


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Monday, September 9, 2013

FAIL!

So, I had my first runners fail last Friday...

It was a beautiful day, not too hot and no humidity in the air at all, which hardly ever happens during a NY summer. So, I decided to hit the pavement since I haven't been for an outdoor run in ages. The treadmill is so boring, I'd much rather be getting some sun and seeing the sights. 

I got about a mile in when I bit the dust. The pavement was uneven, and I just didn't see it coming. I felt myself falling over but there was nothing I could do to stop it! Of course, as my luck would have it, I fell right in front of R's friends house... womp! womp! Thank goodness that no one from his family saw me. I was slightly disturbed by the fact that a couple of cars passed me & no one stopped to see if I was okay, but I guess that's par for the course in this day and age. 

I was so shaken up that I actually called Jay to come pick me up. I walked a few blocks until he found me, and then I pouted the rest of the way home. I'm little upset with myself now, I feel like I should have gotten up and kept on going. I was afraid I had done more damage than what was immediately visible, but I probably could have finished my course. 




It ended up being a lot of cuts and bruises, plus some soreness and trouble using my right shoulder. I took it easy on Saturday, but yesterday I had to get right back to it - I just took it easy on the right side. I still have some soreness in the shoulder, but I'm hoping it wont last too much longer. 

On a slightly more personal note, my husbands ex-wife is trying to move the boys out of state. Of course we do not believe that being 800 miles away from us in a place where they have no other family is in their best interest, so it looks like we will be heading back to court some time in the near future.  I can handle a lot of things, but I can't handle the thought of not seeing them for a month, or months at a time. I can't handle the thought of what this will do to my husband, or my other 2 children. How can we survive without seeing these faces every week???




We are gearing up for another fight, and I hope the good Lord gives us the strength we need to get through it. Any positive energy you could send our way would be greatly appreciated. 


Hope everyone has a wonderful Monday!


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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

It's Been a While...

I can't believe I haven't blogged since August 9th!!!!!! So sorry about that.

We had a very busy month...

I was SUPER BUSY at work at the beginning of August, and then on 17th we hit the road and headed to... DISNEY!!!!

That's right folks... 1 mom, 1 dad, 1 grandpa, & 5 kiddos all packed into the Odyssey and made the long drive down I-95 to the Sunshine State to spend a week with The Mouse. 
Needless to say, it was a L-O-N-G drive! 


We'd just hit the road...
Still sleeping because they were up until 5 AM!!!!
Yes, even baby M!

We spent a lot of time on the Disney bus line, that was a bit of a pain, but they were troopers!  


We ate a lot of great meals at some really cool places...





And saw a few characters...






The kids had a great week seeing the sights & riding the rides.




I had fun doing a comparison between this trip 
and our last visit in 2009:

What a difference 4 years makes!
Lots of great family time, which we certainly 
don't get enough of at home...




We celebrated Grandpa Dave's birthday when we got back from Florida with all you can eat pasta at a local favorite Italian spot... complete with cannolis, apple pie & key lime pie for dessert! 

We didn't have too much down time at home before we hit the road again Labor Day weekend. The boys were with their mom for the last weekend of the month, so we took R and M to Boston to watch our niece Ashley play in the Stars of Mass soccer tournament. 

What should have taken 3 hours took 5, and boy do I hate traffic! We hit stop & go in the Bronx and throughout most of Connecticut. The rain definitely wasn't helping. Luckily, once we made it to the city the rain held out for the rest of the day. Our first stop was the New England Aquarium. Baby M's current movie of choice is Finding Nemo, so she was in her glories!!!








We capped the weekend off watching Ashley's team take home the gold in their tournament. It POURED the whole day,
 but it was worth it! 

That's my girl in the red!!!

Sadly, we are now back to reality. School started yesterday for R, and the rest of my boys go back on Monday... 


I'm sad to see the summer go, but anxious to start a new school year, and a new position at work. I'm looking forward to putting a new philosophy on life into action this year. I'm working on focusing on the good, for myself and my family, and not letting other people's negativity get me down. 

Hope you all had a wonderful end of summer, 
and that you all have lots of love and luck for whatever fall may bring to you and your loved ones! 


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