hello…Monday!

Whew!  Talk about an interesting weekend!  My post from Friday was definitely a low point of the weekend.  I’m just not a person to pretend with ANYTHING.  I’m many things but a fake I am not.  I try to be authentic especially when it comes to my feelings (maybe this is much to take sometimes???).

Authenticity really allows for honest conversations, and if you can’t be honest with your self and your spouse then what really matters in life….  A small, teeny disclaimer:  Others may not be thrilled at this level of authenticity.  In fact, I annoy myself with my inability to just shut up and smile about it {insert whatever IT may be}.

So…in efforts for a lighter post, here’s some weekend pictures!

Jumping away in the foam pit at our local trampoline park {Technically, this was earlier in the week fun.}

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Bowling ~ Mommy got two strikes and a spare all while holding a 15 month old baby girl I know ~ Older kid complained about not getting enough turns even after being reminded that the computer system kept track of our turns ~ Then, Mommy gave an appreciation lecture that was super well-received…

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On Saturday, we took a big trip to an Aldi grocery store.  This was our first visit, and we were perplexed with how to get the shopping cart unleashed from its spot in the cart rack (you pay a quarter fyi ~ when you return the cart, you get your 25 cents back).  Aldi gets mixed reviews from me.  I was disappointed that there wasn’t more organic options. However, the prices were pretty amazing!  Most notable were the $2 organic strawberries, 49 cents dozen eggs, 1.50 organic popcorn and veggie straws, and the pork chops we got were pretty well-priced as well.  I took no pics since it was a little like chaos in there.  We were confused with two small kids on a busy Saturday.  Another important thing to know is that you bag your own groceries in your own bags AFTER you are finished checking out at a nearby counter.

I spent the rest of Saturday doing a return to H&M plus a gym work-out.

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Jake got me this new Yeti water bottle, so I feel all trendy especially when my outfit was totally aqua plus black shorts.  Very unintentionally!

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On Sunday, we did a whole lot of not much except for church.  I went to church with a fearsome bad attitude.  In fact, I was probably the most mutinous looking soul there including the teenagers.  Thankfully, I got over myself by the time we served Lemonade on the Lawn (aka Countrytime Lemonade plus cookies after the service).  Holden did an awesome job of filling up little Dixie cups for the folks who stopped by.  It was so hot!

I did make some shrimp salad plus kale chips for dinner.  The kale chips were improved with some sesame oil instead of olive.

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I hope you had a nice weekend!  I’m looking forward to hopefully a more positive week.  Holden is going to his first summer camp, so I’m excited/nervous for his first day.

I’m linking up with Heather and Johannah!

Natalie

Blogging as it relates to life

I have a confession to make.  My name is Natalie, and I behave in a negligent manner towards a loved one.  I’m thoughtless and am unkind without remorse.  I demand that this person meet unattainable goals.  I wrongfully believe that this person can meet all the needs without requiring anything.  I tend to put this person down and tell her that she couldn’t possibly be successful at this, that or the other…

I am being mean to me.

Isn’t that just sad?!  Actually, it just makes me mad!  See the issue?  Who am I mad at?  Self-love is not my default…and I would even say self-like may be pushing the envelope.  How does this relate to blogging, this blog…you may ask?  Well, I just spent about thirty minutes rereading old blog posts and enjoying seeing what I’ve been up to since I started up this little project back in August 2012.  I love watching Holden (and us as parents) grow up over time.  I have felt a little sad that I discontinued it over the past few months.  I’ve also felt extremely overwhelmed and like I have no time for anything besides the basics.  Now, this feeling is partially just my personality, but I think I could make a pretty good list of why this feeling is valid (new baby, full-time work, busy family life, daycare craziness, average ups-and-downs of life, etc.).  I’ve pushed aside this outlet to make time and focus on other things.  Important things like feeding humans I love, talking to my extended family on the phone, paying attention to my curious and talkative 5 year old, carrying around a sweet baby who is very partial to her mama, and just general life stuff like tidying up tons of blocks and clean clothes that are piled on the sofa.

The thing is…I’m not sure what to do about it.  I keep telling myself that this is just a season of life!  I’ll have more time for me (hobbies, interests, friends, etc.)when <insert milestone life event here>.  Will I really though?  Will I have a good, long life to explore all the possibilities?  Am I being selfish?  unreasonable?

Things I do know:

  1. I love my children.
  2. I desperately want to follow God’s plan for my life {even though I must be too dense to get the picture sometimes!}.
  3. I am not bionic despite my sister’s ideas.

To conclude this rambling blog post, I’m unsure if I will continue to write in this Internet space.  And I guess it should be enough reason for me to keep doing it if I ENJOY IT (not considering how many “likes” or “hits” it gets.  HOWEVER, I just can’t bear to completely shut it down.  So Happy Friday!  Good grief, that was some heavy thinking!

Natalie

5 for Friday ~ I disappeared AGAIN!

Hi there!  Gosh, I’m so so so bad about keeping up with posting during the school year!  2017 has been quite a doozy so far, but I’m thankful to have faced some challenges together and come out the other side.  Nothing crazy major…just logistics situations.  Let’s jump right in to five things on my mind this Fri-YAY!

{ONE}

CHILDCARE

I don’t think we really knew completely how challenging it would be to live away from family.  Our closest actual “family” members are about 1.5 hours away.  Then, there’s some 2 hour people and then more like 3+ hour away peeps.  We’ve had some logistics issues pop up this year so far that includes the stomach flu, ear infections, and one very awful daycare upset that resulted in a big disappointment and the necessity to immediately find a new place for Miss Helen.  😦  I am so thankful for my mom and sister who dropped all their plans to come over and help us out.  They are busy, working gals, but they made us a priority.  I hope to be able to help them out one day…like one day when I’m not totally out of leave with two small ones who like to pick up all sorts of fun, unique germs each week!  🙂

{TWO}

Holden’s 5th Birthday

Our little boy is five!  How did this happen?!  Words can’t describe how thankful I am that God sent that little boy to us 5 years ago!  I do not have a doubt in my mind that God uses him to refine and shape parts of me that are kind of ick and help me to rely on Him more.  I pray that I can be the mother that God needs me to be to Holden.  I tell Holden all the time that God gave me the most important job, to be a mommy to him, and that I try very hard to do a good job.  I want that little boy to be fully prepared for whatever work God has for him on this earth.

He had a super fun gymnastic birthday party with his friends this past weekend.  That boy gets 110% sillier when he’s around his school buddies!  I love silly little boys (+cool girl!)!  Holden is very much looking forward to his family party this weekend, and we are too!  Many people are coming from out-of-town to celebrate with us.  This is a real treat and a gift itself to have everyone visit us!

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The Mr. was there…he was just taking all these great pictures!  Love the guy with the “dad cam!”  😉

{THREE}

Career Changes

Whew!  This is a big one!  There are MANY things up in the air with my job and the Mr.’s job.  I should begin by saying that I’m thankful we both are employed with no reason to think that will change.  The real issue is that the where of my workplace (and kind-of the Mr.’s too).  We are exploring a few options, but no one plan seems to be jumping out as the “DO THIS!” option.  I’m waiting for my burning bush….anytime now would be great!  🙂

I’ve been working at the same school for ten years now.  There is a certain comfort that comes with this situation.  Also, there are relationships forged and connections made that really make me a bit sad to lose.  However, there’s something to be said for a clean slate, a starting over.  Not to mention…I’d LOVE to be closer to home!  My drive is about 30 minutes with good traffic.  Thankfully, I *typically* have pretty good luck with the traffic. Whatever option I/we pick requires a change in childcare.  Again, back to #1.  Driving me crazy since the beginning of February!

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Image from Pinterest

{FOUR}

Summer Planning

This is about the time I start planning our summer trips, activities, special events, etc.  I like to maximize the “fun-ness” of our summers off.  I’m hoping to add a summer outdoor pool membership to our weekly summer fun.  I do love the beach, and I still want to go a bunch.  BUT it would be so much easier for me to take two kids to the pool vs. the beach.  I’ve found a pretty inexpensive option about 15 minutes away from home.  Although it’s not as close as I thought, I think it will definitely work!  We are also planning lots of family visits.  I really hope we can do a little one night trip for the Mr. and me.  I have yet to spend the night away from Helen.  I’m totally OK with it, but I do feel like it’s easy to let marriage fall by the wayside now that there are two.  You people with 3+ kids…I’m amazed!

{FIVE}

New Hair-Do

I confess that I have been seduced by how pretty long hair looks on other people without considering how it looks on me/goes with my life.  I feel like I’m being choked by my hair RIGHT NOW!  I so want a hair cut!  I’ve got an appointment one week from tomorrow.  I’m so excited!  I want to have a few inches cut off.  I’m thinking of a longish bob???  Right now, I’m being indecisive on the bangs.  Thinking about trying it without and seeing how I feel…

I also know I’d like to incorporate more curl into it vs. the stick-straight look.

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All Hair Images from Pinterest

Well, that’s what’s up with me!  Here are a few fun pics from the past few months.  🙂

Have a great weekend!

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Massanutten Fun!

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Water Park ~ Holden and I had so much fun!  I pray I remember how scared I was when we both went down the big grown-up slides side-by-side when I’m 85!

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Helen and I at swimming!  Love her sweet serious face!

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Waiting for big brother at gymnastics!

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at her new daycare – We are SO thankful to have found a wonderful, loving lady who takes excellent care of our sweet little one while we are at work.  Here she is having fun while Mommy is at work!

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Always pretending to be a billy goat!

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Home Depot Builder

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Natalie

Welcome 2017!

Whew!  Christmas has come and gone, and the New Year has arrived.

Here’s random sampling of some pictures from our holiday season…

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We did two Thanksgiving!  This is a sporting event that I suggest you properly train for.  We have perfected it over the years.  😉

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Plus a few more…img_4410img_4415img_4424img_4431img_4466img_4474img_4487img_4492img_4494img_4504

We are day 4 of snow, and I am so thankful to be home {except for an urgent care doctor trip + a library visit} with these people!  The Mr. had to work both weekdays, but he played it up with Holden over the weekend (and celebrated his 32 birthday!).  I just got the call that schools are closed tomorrow as well.  I know we will have to make it up in some form…I just love this unexpected time off!

2016 was quite a year!  Holden turned four, started Pre-K, played two soccer seasons, did awesome at swimming, and just plain grew a ton before our eyes!  We can’t forget the addition of sweet Helen Elizabeth back in April 2016.  She’s such a blessing, and we are all over the moon for our little girl.  She is small but quite strong in body and spirit!  🙂

I didn’t do any resolutions directly on January 1, but I have done some thinking about it and some areas that I would like to improve upon.

  1. Gossip ~ Isn’t this just a the hardest?!  It’s not like you are stealing, killing, etc. BUT it can steal your joy, and it can kill others’ happiness.  I find this one hard, because I do actually like to talk although I’m not really outgoing with a large social circle.  I really want to make the effort and succeed to not talk about others in a negative light EVEN if it’s just recounting facts (which is how I usually validate it to myself).
  2. Respecting My Husband ~  Whew!  This is a tough one as well.  I do feel like I respect the Mr.  HOWEVER, I tend to not do the best job that I could.  I must accept that I married an imperfect man (just as he married a very imperfect woman) who cannot give me everything that I need and want at exactly every moment of the day.  Just as I cannot do that for him.  The really struggle is when he corrects Holden.  This is a very tough one.  I really feel like parenting/education/kids is MY area.  I’m the expert.  Sounds a bit prideful, huh?  Although I would say I have put lots of time and effort into this area, I want to handle disagreements or critiques of how he handles situations for a time when we can talk about it one-on-one.  It is my hope that this will make us more productive parents and more on-the-same-page.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  Ephesians 4:29

“God doesn’t want me to be a ‘fix him’ wife, God wants me to be a ‘love him’ wife.”

– Lysa TerKeurst

“My husband is one of my greatest blessings from God. His love is a gift that I open everyday.”

– Darlene Schacht

Do you make resolutions?  What is your favorite holiday, Christmas v. Thanksgiving?

Do you decorate for Valentine’s Day?

Happy Tuesday!

We Meet Santa!

Hi there!  Wow, it was a full weekend followed by a very busy Monday.  My mom came into town on Friday evening, and we were all very excited to have her stay.  The Mr. left to go hunting VERY early on Saturday morning.  I also was up and at ’em early on Saturday to help serve breakfast at our church’s winter shelter for those who are homeless in our area.  It was an experience I hope we can share as a family once the kids are older.  I think we tend to label and put ourselves (and others) in categories.  As humans, it soothes us to organize our existence and make sense of our environment and those in it.  I think we (meaning me too) forget that we all have more in common than we think.  The people I served early on Saturday morning were just people whose circumstances are different from mine.  There were some morning-people, some cranky people, some polite people (actually no rude people), just people.  I’m very thankful for the experience.

So…after my early morning activities I picked up my mom and kids to head to the Breakfast with Santa event at my school.  It was so low-key!  It was the perfect recipe for a casual conversation with this guy…

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They both did great!  Holden asked Santa for a Captain America costume…Helen just chilled on his lap!  No spit-up and no tears!

I got to see a few students and introduce them to my kids.  We also visited the book fair, and Holden purchased a book for himself and one to give his sister for Christmas.

After a quick pit stop at home to pick up my sister, we were off for lunch at Dish.  This was a fun restaurant in Virginia Beach…”Scandinavian specialties along with our great American favorites.”  -from the website

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My delicious smoked salmon sandwich with avocado pictured below!

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We ended our celebration (it was my early birthday celebration!) with a visit to The Royal Chocolate in Town Center for fondue.  IMG_4370.jpg

I think it’s clear that Holden was excited.  🙂

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We were so full we hardly ate dinner later that evening!

Sunday was super quiet.  We (the kids and me) staying home all day except for a walk to the park.  I really hate missing church especially during Advent, but Helen is quite a wiggle worm during worship service.  I think we need to take the plunge and drop her off in the church nursery for worship service.  Clingy mom and baby problems!

Here’s Holden doing some crafting on Sunday…

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We were so glad to see the Mr. on Sunday evening…he came home with two deer!  Lots of venison in our future!

Monday was back to work/school, but we enjoyed seeing Holden perform at his Christmas program.  The Mr. was on “dad cam” duty with the pictures, but I did snap this one of the three spectators (Moochie and Poppy were present but not pictured…we were so glad they joined us!)…what do you think of the Mr.’s face?!?

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Whew!  I can’t believe it’s only Monday evening!  I’ve got THREE meetings this week plus just regular school stuff.  I can almost taste winter break AND am so excited!

My Christmas fun list still has cookie baking and some Rudolph watching on it.  🙂  What are you looking forward to in the Christmas celebration season?

Have a great week!

Natalie

 

5 for Friday (Catch-up Edition)

Whoa!  It’s a crazy day!  I’m actually writing a blog post!!!  The perpetual excuse is I’ve been WAY too busy.  It seems like every moment is scheduled or that I’m absolutely exhausted I do have a moment (and therefore immobilized by all the many other moments of the day).  I can only give credit to this post due to my day off yesterday.  So let’s jump into my 5 things on my mind this Friday….

{ONE}

Yesterday was surprisingly hectic since it was a day off.  I joined big H’s class at a holiday performance at a local theater.  It was a family theater group, so adorable (and very talented kids) little ones were actually a part of the action.  Unfortunately, chaperones had to drive themselves.  I like to ride the bus with kids!  It lets me get to know all the classmates that H mentions at home.  Although it was a lot of sitting for those little bodies (3 hours! by the time they were dismissed), they did a great job!  I think the fake snow machine, Elsa signing “Let It Go,” and a couple visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus helped.  😉  No photography was allowed during the performance, but I snapped this pic prior to it.

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Our faces were all red from the reflection of the light off the curtains.  H was very inquisitive about this, so we had a little mini science lesson while we waited.  Anything to keep him occupied!

{TWO}

I’m so thankful soccer is over!  I know that may be terrible to say, but I’m actually thankful it gets dark earlier.  We start settling down sooner (aka I may have put my PJs on BEFORE 5 pm one night this week).  He had a great season that wrapped up in mid-November.  While we were waiting at the performance yesterday, I asked him what it was going to be for the spring, try T-ball or soccer again.  He said, “Soccer!”

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H’s fan club pictured below…

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{THREE}

I’m looking forward to a visit from my mom this weekend.  We are taking the Hs to see Santa at my school bright and early tomorrow morning AND trying a new restaurant for my birthday.  We’ll have the littles in tow since the Mr. is in hot pursuit of a deer.  We always have a good time!  My mom, sister, and I took a little day trip back in November to Lee Hall (family home of Robert E. Lee and former plantation home outside of Richmond, Virginia).  We also enjoyed lunch and a wine tasting at the nearby winery.  It was such a beautiful fall day and fun to be with them without little people in tow!

My mom and sister

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This side of the house faced the James River

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My mom and I

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{THREE}

Helen is 9 months tomorrow!  I’m so happy that she is growing (although I confess to wanting to weigh her CONSTANTLY!)  and developing!  Plus, I’m excited to be coming to the last leg of breastfeeding.  Here’s a few pictures of our baby girl!

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{FOUR}

We took the kids to the Garden of Lights at the Norfolk Botanical Garden this weekend.  It is always so beautiful and a tradition we have done since Holden was 1.  My lap and hands were full with Miss Helen while we were going through the lights, but I had the Mr. take a few while we were waiting…You can definitely tell Helen is growing!  Look at those high-water pants!

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{FIVE}

I’m so excited for Christmas vacation this year!  We are spending our very first Christmas at home in exactly 10 Christmas of living in our home aka two apartments and two houses total.  We are doing a Christmas Eve dinner that will follow our church’s Christmas pageant.  Holden will be a shepherd most likely.  All my motherly dreams are fulfilled!  I’ll see my number 1 baby in a Christmas performance!  I’ll also use fancy dishes that haven’t seen the light of day in my home!  My Christmas is fulfilled already!  The Mr. is going to be in charge of the meat, and I’m in charge of the sides.  I’m not sure he’s totally OK with this.  He’s rather partial to my mom’s cooking and a bit skeptical of the new dishes I want to try.  However, I’m standing my ground and new dishes we shall try.  Can’t wait to be off from work and spend time with these guys with no schedule (sort-of…if you know me personally, you know we’ll have some type of schedule going on!)!

Advent wreath making at church

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Decorating the trees!  We have two this year.  One has our sentimental ornaments on it plus some other pretty ones.  That’s our real one.  The fake on has the old ornaments of my grandmother and the Mr.’s grandmother.  These are all the glass/delicate ones.

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Well, there you have it!  A quick catch-up from the past month + some!  I hope you have the best Friday!  Only 16 days until Christmas!  🙂

Natalie

Dropping Off the Planet + Life Lately

Hi there!  Wow, fall is super busy for me!  I know some people just love this season, but it is always just too much of EVERYTHING for me after the relaxed pace of summer.  Hence…no posts since late September!  It’s like I just fall off the planet until about holiday time.  I bet other teachers would agree with me.  Things don’t seem to smooth out until Halloween.  Well, what is all this busy-ness we’ve been up to you may ask???

Helen’s been chilling at daycare…

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Holden’s been playing soccer…1 practice and 1 game a week except for our rainy spells.  I get to hang out with Miss Lovely on the sidelines.  Thankfully, we’ve had mostly warm weather which is good considering the 5 o’clock practice time.

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He built a fire truck and saw lots of firemen with their fire truck at the Home Depot Kids’ Workshop on one rainy Saturday.  We were glad to have C-Pa and Meme join us for this Saturday fun which also included PIZZA!IMG_4197.jpg

We all went to the Neptune Festival at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.  Although no purchases were made (lots of art and artisans there), Holden score lots of free loot.

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He only tortured his sister slightly with it…

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I got a bang trim to prepare for my sis-in-law’s wedding which is THIS WEEKEND!  Can’t believe it’s almost here!

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I’ve still been doing running/working out when I can.   I signed up for a 5K the Saturday after Thanksgiving to keep me motivated.  I’m looking forward to a fast, short race.

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I got to do a trail run recently, and it was wonderful.  I just ran for enjoyment – not time or distance.  Saw lots of pretty scenery and just basically soothed my soul!

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until this happened…

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I tried to jump up on a fallen tree blocking the trail.  I was coming from downhill and didn’t have enough forward momentum.  Took a tumble!  Don’t worry…I eventually made it over after a couple of similar attempts.  It is still a quite lovely scabby mess.

We experienced some of Hurricane Matthew and lost power for a little over 24 hours.

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Lots of dog cuddling…

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I baked the above “chocolate cake” in the toaster oven on our one cord coming from the generator.

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Hunting season has started for the Mr., so we are doing our best to tough it out without him.  I think we did pretty OK.  I had my right-hand-boy with me while grocery shopping last Saturday.

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Aren’t those kid-sized carts adorable?!?!  He is such a big helper!