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

5 for Friday

This post is all things summer.  Totally fitting as this the last week of official summer.  To me, August always seems lightning fast and full of preparing for the school year to kick in. Here are five “summery” things on my mind!

{ONE}

Family & Trips – We have had SO many fun times with family this summer!  We’ve had lots of long weekends and a few vacations days for the Mr. that have allowed us to really soak up lots of family love.  Our weekends typically are full of either travel or enjoying our guests here at home.  This weekend we actually have no official plans with no official guests, AND we will be at home.  This seriously hasn’t happened!  We were supposed to be heading out of town for a little couple’s getaway, but we’ll be hanging out as a party of four instead.  In the spirit of our typical weekend, here are a few pictures that are from our time in Staunton this past weekend…

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{TWO}

New Pictures Are Up! – It feels so good to have checked off one big summer “to-do.”  I have sorted and put all our prints in albums.  SO HAPPY TO BE DONE!  I’ve also changed out our hall pictures and put out new picture frames with up-to-date pictures.  Yay!  I love how welcoming our front hall table looks with the pictures!  Holden even told me at dinner that the table by the door looks “cute.”  🙂

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{THREE}

Countdown to the Half – I’m loving my summer goal of training for the Virginia Beach Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon!  I’ve really been trying to challenge myself to beat my time, and I hope to do so by working on my cadence (definition of fancy running word:  Cadence in sports involving running is the total number of ‘revolutions per minute’ (RPM), or number of full cycles taken within a minute, by the pair of feet, and is used as a measure of athletic performance. Courtesy of Wikipedia).  I’ve also been getting FREE magazines from the local library…Running Times and Runner’s World.  Very inspiring!  Makes me want to do another race soon!  Maybe the Wicked 10K?  I’ve also read about the Monument Avenue 10K in the spring and the Dirty Girl Mud Run.

P.S.  Don’t you just love this quote from Kate Grace?!?  “I am a discomfort master. I thrive in all conditions. Everything I need to succeed is already within me. It is here to stay.”

If you don’t know, Kate Grace is an elite runner and running in the Olympics which are coming up very soon.  Read her blog post here.    It’s about being calm on race day.

{FOUR}

Cookie, Cookie! – I’m getting ready to do some serious baking in preparation for Helen’s baptism and some other party things coming up.  I’m thinking of keeping with the traditional chocolate chip cookie and oatmeal raisin cookie.  Of course, I’m going to do some lemon cookies that are famous in my family.  I’m not bragging…people do actually remember and request these cookies!  I’m unsure about my other two selections.  Should I do the oatmeal and the chocolate chip?  Something more exotic?

These chocolate-dipped peanut butter cookies are semi-homemade and look delish!

I tried these Cream Cheese Strawberry Cookies, but they didn’t fair well in the heat aka not refrigerated.  They melted into a blob!  😦

M&M Cookies – They look so cute and cheerful!

S’mores Cookie Bars – Too rich?  Or too perfect?

Please share your opinion in the comments below!  I’m being so indecisive.

{FIVE}

Beachin’ It – I love going to the beach, and I actually don’t mind taking kid(s) to the beach.  Not sure Helen counts as she isn’t mobile yet!  A friend emailed me asking for tips for taking kids to the beach.  Here are my top five!

  1. Go early!  I like to leave by 8:30.  Our beach is about 10-15 minutes away.  It will be cooler and less crowded.  Bonus:  You will be home in time for baths, lunch, and naps.
  2. No big meals there!  I only take water and snacks.  If I do pack a snack or sandwich, I wrap the food in aluminum foil.  It can double as a plate.
  3. This goes without saying (I think), but put sunscreen on kids and yourself before leaving the house.  I take spray sunscreen for Holden to use at the beach for reapplication.  He doesn’t like having the sand rubbed into his skin when you reapply regular tube sunscreen.
  4. Chairs for little people – reduces sand all over…kind of.
  5. Use a backpack to help carry stuff and keep your hands free.  Fortunately, I’ve been able to go to the beach lots this summer and had extra people aka extra sets of hands.  However, I would take things in a backpack when Holden was younger, and I’m sure I’ll do that again when Helen is more mobile next summer.  Right now, she rides to the beach (from the parking lot) in our Baby Bjorn carrier.  This lets me have my arms free.

BONUS – Get a fan if you have a little one!  We got this one from Babies R Us.  I use it all the time and especially at the beach.

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Hope you have a great Fri-YAY!  Here’s a few more pictures from our week (yes, we are at the library again!).

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Natalie

Botanical Garden and Bike Riding

Wow, it’s already Monday!  This weekend was so fun, but it really flew by.  Friday started out with an oil change for me (and Helen).  Unfortunately, we found out about a problem with my car that will need to be fixed in the next few months for a lovely $600 price tag.  That is no fun Friday fact.  Here’s Helen so nicely sleeping for me at the auto place…

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We also had another bit of a bummer Friday evening with a loss of power due to heavy rain and winds that came through that evening.  It was quite a steamy night in our house.  Power came back on that morning.  Just in time for me to head out for my 9 mile run!  Wow!  It’s a good thing I go early, because I’m drenched in lovely sweat running at 6:30.  I can’t imagine waiting until later.

After that run, it was a quick change before Aunt Sarah Beth and Uncle Cullen got here for a trip to the Norfolk Botanical Garden.  Here he is working on his stroller skills!

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We did a little exploring in one section of the garden, but rain forced us to make a run for a gazebo.  We waited out the rain and then continued on.

Clearly, Holden didn’t let that keep him down.

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Miss Helen was snoozing, so she missed the photo opportunity.

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We were so glad they came to visit!

Here’s Holden checking out a big tree in another one of our “let’s seek some shelter from the rain” moments.

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There was a butterfly festival going on there.  However, it was EXTREMELY busy around that section.  I didn’t take a single picture.  We also didn’t make it through the butterfly house due to a very long line.  Holden and I had seen it last year, but I was slightly bummed to miss it.  That line was cray though!

Holden got a little water action in the WOW Children’s Garden…

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Here’s the view from the top of the NATO Tower there…

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Despite the rain, I think we all had a great time!  Afterwards, we went home to enjoy a late lunch.  I made these Beer & Cheddar Burgers from Mix & Match Mama.  Along with the burgers, we had corn on the cob and home fries.  For dessert, it was a Lemon Raspberry Pie.  I really liked the burgers, and the Mr. really liked the dessert…so there you go!  Saturday was also a big day in the bike riding world!  Holden is riding without training wheels!  Woo-hoo!  We are so proud of him, but I think he may be even prouder of himself!

On Sunday, I went to church and left the dudes playing Legos.  Holden had a birthday party for his very good buddy who is moving away in a couple weeks.  He had a great time celebrating with him!  Sunday finished up with an at-home workout for me and some swimming time for the Mr. and Holden at a friend’s pool.

Whew!  What a full weekend!  We are having such a good time this summer.  It’s hard to believe that we are just a little over a month away from our “fall” routine.  I hope you’re having an excellent Monday so far!

We don’t have a whole lot going on this week except for summer camp, a library event, and the never-ending laundry routine.  😉  Have a great day!

Natalie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Shore Trip

Happy July!  Can you believe how fast summer is going?!?!  We got to enjoy lots of family time over the last week on the Shore.  It was also Helen’s first overnight (really several nights) trip!  The last week was filled with yummy food, staying up past bedtime, lots of baby holding, games, beach trips, fireworks, a parade, a fishing trip and just plain old fun!

We headed out of town right after Holden finished up his last swimming lesson.  Here’s little sister and me waiting for the master swimmer…Excuse the spit!

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We got to my parents’ house that afternoon after a very sketchy picnic.  I’m a big-time picnic lover, but I confess that the location was super creepy.  This was especially true when we had to stay a bit longer for me to nurse Helen.  I honestly can’t remember if people (aka siblings + Uncle Michael) came over that night or the next.  All I remember is that I ate good food and relaxed.

The next day we (my mom, Holden, Helen, and I) met up with my cousin and her two adorable girls for a little beach time.  It was so nice to catch up with her!  We went to the same church growing up, were in Girl Scouts together, and just hung around each other quite frequently.  Wish we could get together more often!

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After our morning beach trip, we got to enjoy a “ladies’ lunch” of seafood salad with Aunt Sarah Beth.  Holden was unimpressed with the main course, but he was totally down with the sparking apple juice.  My mom always has the fun food/drinks!  We visited my grandmother’s best friend and caught up with her that afternoon.  We also went down to a local landmark and checked out the views…

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Holden was running all over this place!  I love his enthusiasm for things/life!  I also confess that it is a tiny hope of mine that he stays a lifelong runner.

On Friday, a delegation of family went to the beach at Assateague.  This is the typical “beach” that I remember from my childhood.  Specifically, I remember going with my grandmother.  She always had Coca Cola, Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies, Egg Salad, this hideous Raggedy Ann blanket, and the intention of getting us new friends and/or a boyfriend.

P.S.  Doesn’t Holden look like 25 in these picture?!?!?!

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If you look hard, you can see Miss Helen chilling in the beach tent with a fan DIRECTLY on her face.  Ha!  Got to do what you got to do!

Uncle Michael on kid duty in the picture below!

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Hands-on grandma right here ladies and gentlemen!  My mom was all over that beach!  She was chasing down Holden aka preventing a drowning, sticking Miss Helen’s feet in the sand and water, AND generally gossiping with my sister and me.  When we left, she said that she didn’t think she had been this sandy since me and my siblings were small!  I was/am so thankful for her!

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Running yet again!  Great form in my humble opinion ; )

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Holden had a great time splashing around!  I was so thankful for the extra hands.  My poor sister even got her lovely bathing suit spit on by the Spitter aka Helen.  Around 11, we left in a mad rush when Miss Helen had had quite enough fresh air!  Plus, there were crazy storms that popped up midday through the afternoon.  I was very thankful we seized the day and got another beach trip in!

The Mr. joined us after finishing out the work week, and I was very happy to see my partner in parenting/life!  He is one grade A beach-goer (especially with kids and all the lovely accessories they require!).

Saturday turned out to be a girly day with my mom, Helen, and I taking in the sights (and some lunch!) after I finished up my 7 mile run.  I went back over to Assateague to do my run.  Such pretty scenery!

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The guys (my dad, the Mr., Uncle Cullen, and Holden) went fishing, and Holden officially caught his first fish!  It was a pretty good size or so I am told.  However, it was out of season.  Don’t those “jorts” on my brother make you want to grab a pair of jeans and some scissors?!?!  ; )

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Later on Saturday we had to meet with the preacher who will be doing Helen’s baptism.  She also married the Mr. and me and baptized Holden.  That evening the Mr. and I went on a date!  We went to Bloxom Winery for pizza, salad, and wine except beer for me.  I’m just not cool enough for wine.  IMG_3691.jpg

Sunday was church and lots of rain!  The rain pretty much continued through the 4th.  😦  We spent some time with Holden and Helen’s Meme and C-Pa on Sunday through Tuesday.  We had some swimming plans, but they just didn’t happen.  Thankfully, the rain took a break the morning of the fourth, so we could participate in the motor-less parade!  Holden did this last year on his bike.  This year he was so speedy!  I’m thinking next year will be without the training wheels!  Maybe little sister can even ride in a wagon.  🙂

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Holden’s fan club came to see him…  🙂  Notice my mother’s phone (made the picture!)…this woman likes her smartphone!!!

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Check out Miss Helen!  She was sporting some stars for the special day!

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We ended our holiday with some fireworks!  Helen’s first time!  No crying (except from Roscoe the dog) and way big eyes taking it all in!IMG_3710.JPG

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I confess to having a holiday hangover that has lasted through today.  It was a little hard to get back into the swing of things like grocery shopping, laundry, and kiddy tasks like reading two million books before 9AM.  I’m so very thankful for our family vacation and all the memories we made!  We are so blessed to have so many people who loves us so much.

The good news is…it’s Hump Day AND weekend visitors are coming!  My sister-in-law and her fiancee are supposed to arriving on Friday.  We are excited, and Holden is asking if they are coming tonight!

Hope you have a great week!

Natalie

In Which We Attain Bliss

It is not often that I can truly say without a shadow of a doubt that we had a relaxing weekend.  Don’t get me wrong…we still tackled some necessary to-dos.  However, frozen yogurt was enjoyed.  Swimmies and pool time both happened.  Mommy had a drink (or two) while SITTING STILL by above mentioned pool.  Homemade biscuits were scarfed down.  Church attendance happened.  We even watched a movie on Saturday night in the comfort of our temporary home.  A delicious and not-the-typical dinner was devoured.  What bliss!  I was busy enjoying it so much that I only snapped a few pics of our weekend.  

Here we are taking a few practice swings while checking on all “our stuff!” as Holden says at the storage unit.

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We followed that up by shopping at Wally World.  Although I love my Trader Joe’s, sometimes you just need some mainstream things like a spaghetti squash!  LOL!  I love a grocery shopping trip.  Even though I tease the Mr. about all his “wants” when he gets to the store, I do enjoy doing it with him.  After begin super productive early on (i.e. run, make biscuits, church, make 3 meals for this week), we headed to our apartment building’s pool.  I confess that I didn’t get it, but I did get to enjoy the two cuties below splash around.  

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Aren’t they simply wonderful…I’m a very blessed lady to get to hang out with these two (+Roscoe the dog, of course, who was busily crying in his crate about us daring to leave him at home).

Here’s Our Agenda for the Week:

eat:  shrimp casserole + asparagus, meatballs + spaghetti squash + salad, pan seared veggies with feta + beans + garlic toast, burgers + sweet potato fries + salad, skinny lasagna roll-ups + broccoli

read:  finish the me I want to be, go to the library for new books for H and I

move:  yoga (2x), AM weights and cardio (2x)

rest:  in bed by 9 each night

do:  pants and dress to seamstress, research sunscreen and deodorant (this natural stuff just isn’t the same!), Father’s Day???, make the cute name matching game below for H, plan a picnic menu???

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Hope you had a wonderful weekend!  Here’s to a speedy 10 days (!) until summer break for us!

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Finding Your Fitness

‘Tis the season when work-outs are missed but extra treats are not.  I struggle with this just as much as the next person at this time of year.  I’ve been eating my WEIGHT in chocolate the past two days.  A chocolate intervention is definitely needed!  However, I know I will get back on the healthy eating and fitness wagon, because I don’t like the way I feel when I’ve missed work-outs repeatedly or over-indulged repeatedly.  The “repeatedly” part is the key.  We can go treating our body poorly by giving it poor fuel and not letting it “stretch its legs” so to speak.  Everyone should take a break and enjoy all this holiday season has to offer  including time spent with family just relaxing and the delicious tastes that we only get this time of year.  How do we keep the fitness in our lives though?  When I’m visiting family, I’m away from my at-home work-out equipment and my gym.  Here’s how I try to fit in fitness…

  • Take the jogging stroller – I use this to take Holden with me on long walks with the dog.  This gets a lot done at one time.  Fresh air for babe, exercise for dog, and exercise/stress relief for Mama.
  • Pack running shoes and try to go for some amount of distance in the morning hours – We all know morning work-outs are more likely to be kept than afternoon or evening ones.  Keep this in mind on your holiday.  I get a thrill out of getting my work-out done, showering, and then jumping back into my pajamas.  Then, I still get to savor the relaxing time on the couch in my soft clothes aka PJs.  
  • Take advantage of being away from home to check out new, outdoor work-out areas like parks, towns, or perhaps even a new gym with a guest pass
  • Volunteer to pick up groceries for whomever you’re staying with – You can make sure to pick up what they might need plus some healthy snacks like bottled water, almonds, fruit, and salad greens.  Greek yogurt is good too!
  • Make walks social by inviting family members to join
  • Work-out DVDs – A dvd doesn’t take up much room in a suitcase.  Just pop it in early in the morning, and you’re done!  Pick something that does require much equipment.  Yoga is good.  I can definitely make do with just a rug.  
  • Volunteer to cook a side dish – You can make your side dish something that is more on the healthy side.  Then, you have a healthy option when it comes time to chow down.

Do you have any other tips?  How do you stay fit during the holidays?  I took full advantage of a little town on our way home from the Thanksgiving holiday.  We (the traveling Three Musketeers = Me, Roscoe the Dog, and H) stopped in Cape Charles and enjoyed the pretty views and picturesque homes.  What a nice change from our usual walk around the neighborhood!  Idyllic pictures below.  Sidenote:  The Mr. and I were married there three years ago.  Brought back sweet memories.  

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Remember, someone somewhere is wishing they were able to do what you can do right now.  Treat your body right.

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