Juice Fast: Day 1

I just finished watching “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” by Joe Cross. I’m a little late to the game – he released this in 2007 – but let me say, I was a little busy, you know with family members dying of cancer and whatnot. It slipped by.

What also slipped by was another 30 pounds of stress. That brings me closer to 300lbs that I ever thought possible. What’s crazy is this: I wasn’t heavy as a child, or a teenager, or when I married at 20. I was a comfortable size 9. When I became pregnant with Kelsea, I gained 87 pounds on 5 months of bedrest. Not ever having an issue with weight before, it didn’t “bother” me. I just figured it would drop off.

It didn’t. I lost about 30 pounds, but then gained another 60 with my second daughter, Cathryn.

But again, it didn’t bother me. I was in a happy marriage, with a guy that didn’t make an issue of it. We had other issues over the years, but this wasn’t one of them.

I worked from home, so I didn’t have the “social stigma” of worrying about it. I didn’t have peer pressure from co-workers. It wasn’t an issue of self-esteem. I like myself – I really do.

Two decades passed, and a little more weight was added each year. We didn’t eat badly, and the girls didn’t struggle with their weight. But, my mostly sedentary life was the issue for me. I simply didn’t move – at all.

Still, it just wasn’t an issue. Until, it was. I turned 40 and started to feel like crap. All the time. My body hurt. My knees hurt to the point that I avoided MOVING if possible.

12 weeks of strictly following a new eating plan resulted in my husband losing nearly 40 pounds and looking great. I lost 12 and I was totally frustrated.

Which brings me to what I’m doing. A juice fast. 14 days to start, but I’m hoping to go for 40. Fresh juice to detox my body and then a mostly Pescetarian diet after that. It’s got to be a life change. Which means, you know, for life.

Here we go.

 

Beginnings… Again.

I’m inconsolable.

I’m heartbroken.

I’m depressed.

I’m the mom of a college sophomore.

Being the mom of a sophomore is harder for me than being a freshman mom, I think. As a freshman you secretly hope they’ll hate college and come home needing you desperately after realizing they couldn’t get through a week without you solving some problem. OK… only me? Yeah, I suspected as much. Thanks for the validation that I’m the worst mom ever. I mean, I guess I didn’t want that – but I would have been alright if it had happened. Wasn’t it enough that she was accepted to the University of her dreams? Did she actually have to GO?

I mean – we raised her to be smart, independent and ready to conquer the world. So why was I so disappointed when she did just that? Rather than cuddled up with me watching Pride and Prejudice, she’s the President of the National Honor Society, Social Secretary of her Sorority AND she made all A’s.  She only finds time to Skype once a week (if that) and she’s happy and well adjusted.

What the WHAT?!

We’ve just dropped her off at Trinity University (well, to be fair, followed her, were allowed to unload a bookshelf and then summarily dismissed… but I digress) and this time everything seemed just fine. No tears, except for her Dad, who had “the moment” before we left. Lord, who am I kidding? The man hasn’t stopped crying. I was thinking it felt somewhat familiar and wasn’t all that terrible. She’d been ready to go back for a few days and we weren’t all warm and fuzzy, truth be told. She was being a pain, actually. So, when we got there, we did the hug thing, and the photo thing, and I fussed over the things I fussed over last year – 10 minutes, tops. The car ride home was a breeze. I was pretty much thinking I was skating by this year without a meltdown.

Until I got home and started to unload the stuff she’d sent back with us, after emptying and sorting the storage unit she rented at the end of last year and dividing it into “move back into new Prassell Dorm Room” and “Send home with Mom & Dad.” She kept a lot of sorority things, decor things and I-have-no-clue-what-they-are-things… and sent back books with us.

Lots and lots of books, in fact. Well-loved, well-read classics from her childhood. Books my Daddy gave her before he died. Her entire hardbound collection of Harry Potter. Pride and Prejudice. Dog-eared copies of Roald Dahl and Shel Silverstein. The Odyssey. I’m digging through and thinking that we’ve made a mistake and grabbed the wrong things. But, no, she’s loaded them into the truck herself. I’m shocked. She’s sent back her Audrey Hepburn Autobiography, for pete’s sake. All the books that make her who she was before she left as a Freshman. She couldn’t leave without them last year. Wouldn’t thin them out when she saw her overwhelmed roommate. They were her friends, confidants, inspiration and solace when her world capsized a couple of times.

It hits me – hard – that they aren’t her security blanket as they were last year. They are now back in her room at home and she has a new shelf of books she loves – in her dorm. The ones she sent back with us aren’t the things completely define her now as they once did. She’s different. Richer, deeper and more experienced. New books pique her interest. New people covet her time.

She’s not coming home. She didn’t hate it. She doesn’t need me the same way she once did. She’s more than OK.

She’s a Sophomore.

She’s staying there and she’s sent home her books.

Yeah – I’m THAT Mom.

Oh. My. Stars.

Seemingly overnight, I became THAT Mom. The working mom. The mom that’s got a meeting and has to miss Monday Morning Moms in Touch, and the one that sent a text to her assistant last night at 10pm to please bake a cake for her kid to pick up at 7:15am. Horrifying, right? It took me 18 years, but I’m driving an SUV. I’m talking on my Bluetooth headset in the carpool lane. I have a standing order at Starbucks and they know me by name. I’m booking flights and keeping a bag packed for business trips. I ordered a new Oakley Messenger Bag and didn’t balk at the $120 price tag. I live and breathe by my Google Calendar and Blackberry. I say things like, “Let’s Huddle Up Next Week” – which is the new millenium version of “Let’s Do Lunch.” – Even I make myself throw up a little.

I’m THAT Mom. I buy my way out of volunteering. I beg for rides for my kid. I haven’t made a real dinner in at least six months and that’s counting Thanksgiving, which I had catered this year for the first time in 20 years of marriage. I send my Husband Facebook Events for our weekend plans and I make my kids Tungle Me if they need some one-on-one time.

Our favorite restaurant Kody’s in on my Blackberry SpeedDial as letter “F” for FOOD. Quickbooks yelled at me for spending more there than my car payment last month.

I’ve had my own business for more than 10 years – so why the uber-insantity now? For starters, business is better than ever. I’m finally doing what I love to do full time. I get paid to speak and tell people what to do as a Social Media and Internet Business Consultant and I co-own a wedding planning business for brides coming to the little island paradise I call home. And I suppose it’s because I’m seeing the writing on the wall. In just a little more than 24 months, my baby will graduate and begin her college career and next stage of life. My eldest is already in college and like all almost-empty-nesters, I started to think about what I wanted to be when I grew up about a year ago.

I’m not done being a mom, mind you. I still #MomStalk my kids on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and via GPS loaded on their phones. I stalk them lovingly in ways they don’t even know about. (BTW- If you need some tips, hit me up. I’m like the Kaiser Soze (NSFW) of MomStalkers) It just seems like someone hollered “Game On” – and now it’s on. Wanna huddle up next week with some Facetime and Skype about it?

A Presbymergent Ash Wednesday

I adore my faith. I’m really in love with my church. I love the little buildings, the food pantry, the youth room, the chocolates outside our church secretary’s office and the creaky old floors that rattle when anyone over 14 pounds walks on them.

There’s a Grey’s Anatomy episode called, “Sanctuary” that’s one of the most powerful pieces of television ever written in my opinion. In voiceover, Meredith talks about the hospital being her church, her home and the place she loved most in all the world.

That’s how I feel about my church. I love it. It’s my sanctuary. My home. It’s messy, and stressful, and there are stupid people that bug the snot out of me some days. I know they feel the same way about me. That’s just fine. We’re stuck with each other for all eternity, so we better get used to it.

It’s also majestic and reverent, and gives me a sense of home and belonging that makes me feel connected and peaceful. We’re the youngest family in the congregation – most of our membership is well into their 60’s and 70’s. Our girls are the youngest confirmed members. Being such a hipster family, one wonders how and why we are so deeply rooted in this congregation. Sure, Ken’s the Youth Director, but really – he could do that at any church.

It’s the roots. It’s the deep familial roots. It’s knowing there are others to catch you when you fall – and also laugh with you, and sometimes at you. With silent permission, of course, because you’ll do the same thing with and for and to them. It’s dinners brought over when you’re sick. It’s fighting over the best looking bulletin, and who left the dadgum air conditioning on? It’s crying together when someone dies, or when someone breaks into your church to steal – when you would have given it to them. It’s feeling like you’re living a big scary life – but there’s a safety net below.

Today is Ash Wednesday. It’s the day when we, as Presbyterians, begin Lent. Like so many Christians around the world, we consider how we can repent, regroup, and rededicate our lives to God. It’s a reminder that we’re ashes to ashes and dust to dust – but as Pastor Tricia reminded us this morning – it’s comforting because those ashes and dust are part of the earth – which wholly and solely belongs to God. And so we too belong to God.

Someone asked me once how I got used to “reciting” the prayers we say and didn’t that feel “manufactured?” We say what we believe each week. We have ashes placed on our heads. We take communion. There was a time I thought that it was all a little groundhog day, too. It was odd to recite things, but a still small idea came to me in the middle of a service, just before we decided to join the church. It was the deep peace that came from knowing that other brothers and sisters of faith all around the world were believing and saying the same things and those things had been said for thousands of years and rather than that feeling like a ritual, it became a cord of belonging. A connectedness throughout time – connecting me to others by just one degree of separation.

I am honored to call myself a follower of Christ. I’m happy to call myself a Presbyterian, but I really choose to be a Presbymergent – an emergent Presbyterian that holds fast to the ancient, as well as embraces the conversations of today. The ashes of yesterday with the ashes of today – all belonging to God.

Ben Franklin Said It Best…

My intention being to acquire the habitude of all these virtues, I judged it would be well not to distract my attention by attempting the whole at once, but to fix it on one of them at a time; and, when I should be master of that, then to proceed to another, and so on, till I should have gone through the thirteen; and, as the previous acquisition of some might facilitate the acquisition of certain others, I arranged them with that view, as they stand [below].

1. TEMPERANCE
Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
2. SILENCE
Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid
trifling conversation.
3. ORDER
Let all your things have their places; let each part of
your business have its time.
4. RESOLUTION
Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without
fail what you resolve.
5. FRUGALITY
Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself;
i.e., waste nothing.
6. INDUSTRY
Lose no time; be always employed in something
useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
7. SINCERITY
Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; and,
if you speak, speak accordingly.
8. JUSTICE
Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits
that are your duty.
9. MODERATION
Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much
as you think they deserve.
10. CLEANLINESS
Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
11. TRANQUILITY
Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common
or unavoidable.
12. CHASTITY
Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to
dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s
peace or reputation.
13. HUMILITY
Imitate Jesus and Socrates

Can Anyone Spare A Time Machine?

Every single Summer of my childhood I looked forward to the last day of school, knowing that within 2-3 days after that final day my Grandma GG would show up and whisk me off for “THE SUMMER” to a place where it stayed light until 10pm, fireflies lit our night sky, we could see every star in the universe, we stayed out late to play freeze tag, I worked at an ice cream parlor with her, and I had an endless supply of quarters for Defender and Skeeball in the village arcade. fleetreview

Growing up, nothing much changed from year to year. The same kids came back, like a refugee summer camp. I had friends from the Palisades – the neighborhood where my GG had lived since the 1950’s, friends from Orange County whose parents owned major Jaguar and Cadillac car dealerships, friends that were kids of rock stars, movie stars and TV stars escaping the heat of Los Angeles. None of this was important to me. Summer was the great equalizer. Sure they were rich, but could they outrun Donny Loth? Sure their parents were important back in 90210, but could they beat my high score at Ms. Pacman?

I loved my childhood in Lake Arrowhead. I am particularly homesick this summer, for many reasons. Mostly, I miss my Grandma and she absolutely loved summer. We would walk the 3 blocks from her tiny cottage to the lake and camp out at Orchard Bay, eating peanut butter and honey sandwiches and drinking Shasta Grape soda until our tongues were purple. We were the first ones there, and the last to leave. Sometimes my cousin Jeremy would join us and those were the best days of all. She would let us wander into the orchard behind the beach and eat bitter crab apples and there was a secret swing to play on. I couldn’t go by myself, but if Jeremy went with me, we could go.

sportsman

One time Jeremy and I were in the water and since GG was the best playmate ever and could do handstands in the water, we called her – over and over and over, “Grandma! Grandma! Grandma!” She was on the beach with her best friend Pauline Loth drinking Olympia Beer and just had her hair set to go to the Sportsman that night with her husband, my Fafa. Finally, she exploded in exasperation, “If you yell Grandma ONE MORE TIME… you’re gonna get it!” – which we knew meant a smack on the butt with a flip flop.

Daring the sting of the dreaded flip flip, but now also knowing she wouldn’t come in the water to get him, Jeremy replied, “What would you like us to call you? OLYMPIA BEER?” – and that was her name for the rest of the summer and for many others, too, shortened to just “Oly.”

Jeremy and I would be trotted around the mountains to her favorite places – the Yacht Club, Sportsman, Monte Corona and the Royal Oak were her top picks, but the Little Villager across the street from the Royal Oak in Blue Jay was mine. Owned by Betty Pekus, my Godmother, it was the place where I had my first and only “Boy Cheese Sandwich” – so named because Jeremy thought I was saying “Girl Cheese Sandwich” when ordering, and felt it was quite sexist. Only the Cedar Glen Malt Shoppe with it’s super-thick peanut butter shakes could woo me from the Little Villager, but long summers insured time for all of the best things to be crammed in, over and over again.

My GG was a little sassy, and I’m pretty sure it’s embedded in my girls. Every year she would “adopt-a-dock” – which I later learned was code for trespassing. Her rationale was that she lived there full time, owned lake rights and had lost her own dock in her divorce from my Fafa. So, she would stake out the lake, sometimes in Emerald Bay, sometimes Orchard Bay, and figure out who wasn’t using their dock that summer and move right in with her folding chairs and pink floating rafts. By the 4th of July she knew she was home free if no one showed up to claim it. If vacation renters came up for the weekend, she would play dumb, bluff if she needed to, and name drop if anyone questioned her. She always pulled it off and until I was about 16, I didn’t know any better. She always told me, “Oh, so-and-so asked me to keep an eye on it this summer for them.” cafe

I miss my lake. I miss the later summers of the Blue Jay Jazz Festival, and the Rotary Wine Tastings. I miss our friends Bev and Jay and dinners at the Chef’s Inn with Randall. I miss being on my Fafa’s old wooden Chris Craft and eating corndogs with ketchup from the Dam Grill at the North Shore Marina. I miss Tavern Bay and the smell of pine trees, and the honeybees that invaded my the tree in GG’s front yard. I miss honeysuckle and the fireworks over the lake.I miss skiing with Shaneen on her boat, “Kenyaketchme.”  I miss my Grandma’s old friends from the Elk’s Lodge – Mickey Haskins, Betty Baumann and Betty Pekus, my Godmother, whom I called my Dodo. The “why” of that nickname has long since faded in shadow, and sadly, I have no one to ask. I miss Santa’s Village and swimming with my Daddy at Deep Creek.

svshow

I haven’t been back since my Grandma died. I’m not sure I can ever go back without having a nervous breakdown. It might just be best to let everything remain frozen in time in my mind rather than go back and see it all without her. Who knows? I used to love Summer with all my heart, and now I’m content to ignore it and work right through until Fall. In 11 days my girls are back to school – one to College and one a Sophomore in High School. Maybe next Summer we’ll all go back and make some new memories. Or maybe I’ll just see if I can find a time machine on Ebay and take them back with me to when it was my very own magical place.

Carrots, Eggs, and Coffee

coffee
One of my many, many, many Coffee Waves Lattes.

A carrot, an egg, and a cup of coffee…You will never look at a cup of coffee the same way again.
A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up, She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen.. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil.

In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.
In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what you see.”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.

Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee.

The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, “What does it mean, mother?”

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however.. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you when the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate yourself to another level?

How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Skywriting is Not Good Social Marketing – Knock it Off.

The Twitter fail whale error message.
Image via Wikipedia

A local church here in town is having a huge promotional event this weekend, and is giving away millions of dollars of stuff to lure draw people in this Easter weekend. I have strong feelings about the subject and despite those strong feelings I’ve tried to live and let live, so to speak. I get the premise, but I think it’s misguided and sends the total wrong message that pandering to people’s base need to covet things is a good marketing hook. But I digress. I really don’t want to hate on the church so let’s just set those aside for a moment and stay on topic.

Which is this: Social Marketing is just that. Social. It’s not you with a bullhorn blasting me from no less than 5 accounts on Facebook and a couple on Twitter, with the same redundant message. It isn’t so, well, OBNOXIOUS and in-your-face. I’m younger than you, so it’s not a “you don’t get my generation” thing.

Social Media allows a connection and a conversation in an era when we’ve forgotten how to have a conversation in our zest and zeal to get our own message out louder and prouder and faster than our competition.

I’m friends with a fair amount of people on Facebook – about 600, and about 1000 on Twitter. I’m sure there are lots of ways to “do” social media, but my way works for me. I know, either personally (as old friends, or family), by reputation (such as political figures and candidates), or by association (such as national business contacts or groups) or by referral and I do turn down requests. I’m not a friend collector. I follow less people on Twitter than follow me and I check every profile. It’s like sorting through the the junk mail at the mailbox and tossing the sales pitches in the trash before you come in the door. Once it’s in the house it’s clutter. My life is cluttered enough.

The gray area that I struggle with is the extra “noise” that comes from Facebook Fan Pages. I am amused at the pages of the Youth Group Kids – the ones they create and the ones they join, with long pithy sentences like,

“I hate it when i’m taking a drink and all the ice attacks my face”

That’s hilarious to me. Just joining the group adds that to your wall, and I get a pretty decent chuckle from some of them.Especially when the kids join 8-10 in a row and daisy chain the messages. No harm, no foul. Not generally the groups I join, but they serve their purpose.

I join some Fan pages out of solidarity or support. For example, I have no need to read a bridal magazine, but my friend owns it so I support her. I love to see local businesses succeed, even if they’re not in my direct line of necessity. I tend to pass on suggestions, good or bad and I’m not particularly shy – but believe it or not, I am discriminate.I’m friends with 600 people – It would be social suicide if I just  just re-blasted everything I get from everyone every day.

I joined a Fan Page of the previously mentioned church because I knew, through school and volleyball, one of the Campus Pastors – his wife, really. I like them, respect their energy (if not always their message) and sense of humor – always a plus for me. Over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed a trend – as a social media marketer, not as a commentary on them personally – toward announcements, duplicated on Twitter and Facebook that started to bug me and last night I really had enough after endless peppering of messages coming from everywhere. Like those flying black things in the movie Pitch Black picking at me.

Again, I digress. Professionally speaking, here are my issues. Maybe you do some of them too. If so, knock it off. We’re all trying to figure this out, but social skills are still the same, and still required for it to work. If you’re in the Corpus Christi area, luckily there’s help – Join the Corpus Christi Social Media Club and contribute and learn from some of the ones that get it. If you’re not in the Coastal Bend, find your local chapter.

  • Duplication. Turn off the Twitter to Facebook App. Stop. They are not the same audience. If they are, you’re doing it wrong. Facebook is friends. Twitter is followers.
  • Frequency: Same message, repeated several times within an hour, sometimes with photos (of tired people? Seriously?) to basically just spam it back out. I saw it the first time. I saw it when your wife reposted it. I saw it the second time on your personal wall. I SAW IT, OK?
  • Ending the “teaser” tweet/wall post with “stay tuned” – This is not your television show. I’m not tuning in to you. This, above all else, I think illustrates social media gone off the rails. TALK TO ME. I’ll talk back. That’s engaging.
  • Not answering comments. If you ask a question, and I take the time to answer it, and then an hour later you post the same question – that’s rude. If it’s rhetorical, say so. If you’re just asking to promote your blog posting, without caring about the answer, that’s spammy.

Here’s the takeaway: Stop skywriting. You can’t hear anyone up there. If people hit the “like” button, that’s not conversation, that’s just people down on the beach waving at the plane. Don’t use that as a measurement of success. Get out of the plane and start talking WITH people instead of AT people.

Just calm down. Please. Back away from the “send” or “post” button for a bit. You’ll be glad you did. We all will.

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Perception

Joshua Bell
Image by rusewcrazy via Flickr

Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. The man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approx. two thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes later:

The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

6 minutes:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes:

A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.

45 minutes:

The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities.

The questions raised:

  • *In a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?
  • *Do we stop to appreciate it?
  • *Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made…

How many other things are we missing?

This was forwarded to my by my friend Dawna this morning – and it hit me where I live today and I felt it bore repeating.  At the moment, I’m watching my youngest daughter curled up next to me, sleeping off a fever with her puppy at her feet. When did she get so long and lanky? My oldest leaves for college in less than 5 months.

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