Memorial Day Weekend

This weekend has been full of time together.  Blessed, sweet, down time together.  We’ve done things like:

Hit the baseball…with our eyes closed.

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Worn our soccer shirt because we’re sad soccer is over.

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We haven’t let a little thing like a broken arm slow us down.

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We’ve enjoyed having daddy all to ourselves for three whole days.

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We’ve made funny faces while hitting the baseball.

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We’ve let daddy give us instruction on our batting stance.

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We haven’t worn shoes.

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And we’ve eaten Star Wars Pancakes.

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We’ve all spent time at the park and the pool as well as spent time this morning as a family praying for Sgt. Jeremy Nevil in Afghanistan.  We love you Jeremy!  We can’t wait until you’re home with your precious family.

Happy Memorial Day.  I pray that it’s been blessed as we remember the men and women who have sacrificed so that we could enjoy the blessings of freedom.

May the Force be With You All!

Like Fish to Water…and other stuff

 Yesterday was a big day in the life of the first born.  He graduated.

Kindergarten, that is.  I’ve never fully understood the point of kindergarten graduations to be honest, but if having a promotion ceremony means I get to watch 60 five and six year olds sing songs and beam with pride, then I’ll take it.  Because it was awesome.  I almost got a cavity from all the sweetness.

But here is my dilemma, oh internets.  When I was three, I sang my first solo in church.  It was Away in the Manger and I belted it out with pride.  I have a vague memory of my dad standing at the bottom of the steps snapping a picture.  By the time I was in Elementary School I was a performing addict.  I would put plays on at my home making my brother suffer endlessly as he played a host of characters in my little productions.  I loved drama (shocker, I know) and I loved singing on stage. 

I was like a tiny Rachel Berry with a Wisconsin accent.

So how is it, my friends, that I have a child who is so terribly stage shy?  Even more?  He’s got a great voice, loads of personality and can feel the nuances and rhythms of music extremely well for a six year old.  Yet every time he gets on stage he looks like this:

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 To his credit, he was one of four children who were asked to stand around the microphone for one song and he did it without bursting into tears.  He didn’t sing his heart out, but he DID stand up there in front of the mic and I was thrilled.  That was a big step for him and I almost clapped my hands raw.

I tried to upload the video but YouTube was being funky and I don’t have all day for it to load.  I know you’re disappointed. 

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In celebration of the graduates accomplishment, I let him pick the restaurant for lunch – he chose Cheeburger, Cheeburger.  So off we skipped to the mall, his graduation cap firmly placed on his head throughout the entire lunch.  He is a first grader now.

How is it possible that I have a first grader?!  Didn’t I just graduate college, like, yesterday?

My birthday’s coming up next week.  That, combined with the fact that I have a first grader is causing a minor panic attack.

In addition to the commencement ceremony, we decided to hit the deck for the first time this year.  The pool deck, that is.  I’m so glad my kids love to swim.  And they’re really good at it.  They take to the water like little fish.  And for the first time, I don’t have to be right in the water with them.  I have to be close in case Landon’s float flips him over, but I don’t have to be in the water with kids hanging on me.

Which means I can sit on the side and work on my tan – because that’s what life is all about…gettin’ tan.

I kid.  Don’t worry, I do watch my kids while they swim.  While I’m getting a tan…

Sometimes I watch them through the lens:

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This child is starting to look like a little man. Totally freaks me out.

This child is starting to look like a little man. Totally freaks me out.

I'm glad I sprung for the waterproof cast.

I'm glad I sprung for the waterproof cast.

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Wordless Wednesday: The Tooth Fairy is Going Broke

For those of you keeping track – okay, I’m probably the only one keeping track – Sloan has now lost six teeth.  Two on the bottom and four on top.  Every time he smiles I crack up a little. 

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For the record, she still has all her teeth.  She wanted to show me.

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Live and Learn

I had a casual business meeting yesterday.  It was at a St. Louis Bread Company so I decided rather than round up childcare for Landon and Tia, I’d just take them along.  No big deal.  They know how to behave in a restaurant.

Riiiight.

I’m not sure exactly when I determined that bringing them along was a bad idea.  It might have been about the time that Landon started dipping his napkin in his cup.  Or maybe it was when he poured his entire cup of water over his sandwich.

No, that wasn’t it.

It could have been the moment when they both crawled under the table and started peeking their eyes up over the edge and laughing hysterically.  At that point I got a nagging feeling that this meeting wasn’t going as well as it could have.

I think the breaking point came when they spilled out from under the table and began wrestling on the floor.  Right in the middle of the restaurant.  Shrieking and laughing.

Yeah.  That was it.  That was the moment that I knew bringing them along had been a very. bad. idea.

Thankfully, the woman I was meeting was gracious, a mom herself, and had a great sense of humor.  We might even be able to do a little work together.

Provided, of course, that I never bring my kids along again.

On LOST and Dostoevsky

I’ve read The Brothers’ Karamatzov three times. 

I’ve made it to the end once.

I got to The Grand Inquisitor twice and my mind almost exploded and both times I put it down for several months before trying again.  The third time I read it, I quit trying to figure it out and just enjoyed the story.  There was a nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I was missing some pretty important elements and symbols, but I knew if I tried to figure them out, I’d get stuck again, so I ignored the feeling and got lost in the plot.

For much of the last two seasons, I’ve felt the same feeling while watching LOST.  It is the Dostoevsky of television.  There was so much symbolism, so much to get out of the show from a spiritual and worldview standpoint, but if I thought about it too long, I felt like my head would explode, so I got “lost” in the story instead.

And it was a great story.  Probably the greatest TV plotline in history.  It was original and weird and dramatic and funny.  It made you think and laugh and cry and shout.  It was a really, really great show.

I’m not a TV person.  I don’t love to sit and watch TV.  The constant movement and noise makes me crazy.  Aside from FRIENDS, I’ve never before been so addicted to a show that I would put aside life for a short bit of time each week to watch.

But LOST was different.  For six years, LOST has been a date night for Lee and I.  Every week for 18 weeks, we’ve put the kids to bed early, piled up on the couch and enjoyed unravelling the mysteries of the island.  We’ve talked through theories and the significance of what the characters were experiencing.  We’ve grumbled when the plotlines didn’t make sense and clapped our hands with glee when they were so good we felt like we could jump out of our skins.

It’s kind of embarrassing to admit that I’m going to miss a TV show, but I am going to miss LOST.  It’s amazing how attached you can become to characters.  I know they aren’t real, but for six years I’ve invested in the stories of these finctional people.  It was like a long novel that I never wanted to end.  I’m going to miss watching the show with my husband each week.  I can’t imagine another show ever taking it’s place.  I actually told Lee that we should maybe just go ahead and cancel cable.

He thought that might be a little rash.

Warning – Spoiler Alerts Ahead!

Last night’s series finale left me feeling a little confused.  When it ended I almost felt let down a bit.  The nature of LOST is to leave you with questions, so I fully expected to be a little baffled.  But, like Dostoevsky, I felt like the last few minutes were so deep and metaphorical that I missed the whole meaning.  And there was a fear that maybe the writer’s had pulled the wool over my eyes for so long.

They were all dead?! What!

For about fifteen minutes, I felt confused and frustrated.  But it didn’t make sense.  Surely they hadn’t been dead the whole time.  The writer’s wouldn’t do that.  So Lee and I rewatched the ending and it seemed to answer the most pressing question.

The survivors were not dead on the island.  All that was real.  But somewhere along the way, they all eventually died.  Some, like Jin and Sun, Sayiid and Shannon and Boone, died on the island.  Others, like Claire, Kate and Sawyer got off the island and lived life.  We don’t know what happened to them, but they lived and died.  Jack, of course, died on the island, in the same place where he began six years ago.  Laying in the bamboo field. 

Brilliant. 

The sideways reality was a sort of purgatory.  It was a waiting ground – a place for all of them to be connected again.  I still don’t really understand all of that, honestly.  There are a lot of unanswered questions and this is the part of the story that I could either go crazy trying to unravel or I could simply enjoy the story and leave it at that.  Again, it’s the nature of LOST to leave you feeling completely confused and exhilerated all at once.

Dumb smart people…

But the island happened.  And that’s the story that I invested six years of my life into, so I was relieved to know that it was “real.” 

I loved the way that they brought all the characters back together in the sideays reality, even if I’m not crazy about how it ended.  It felt like there was closure.  Kate and Jack were together.  Sawyer and Juliet found one another again.  Sayiid and Shannon were reunited.  It was so good to see all of these storylines intersect once again.  It ended with everyone where they should be.

So all in all, I enjoyed the series finale of LOST.  I still feel like there is so much I missed.  There was deep symbolism leading up to last night’s finale.  I got some of it, I probably overanalyzed a little, and I’m sure I missed a lot.  But strip all that away and I still fell in love with a great story.

If you didn’t watch the show, well, you missed out.  But there’s hope!  Never fear.  Lee and I, being the deep nerds that we are, have every single season on DVD.  You can borrow them anytime you want.

And I am now finished bleeding nerdiness all over my keyboard.

The End.

Disturbing

Landon took me by the hand the other day and led me into the dining room (which is used as the arts and crafts room these days) and showed me this:

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“Baby.  Boo-Boo,” he said, eyes big.  “I do dat.”  Then he grinned, turned and walked out of the room.

Every time I walk in there, this creepy looking baby is staring at me.

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It’s kind of disturbing.

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Let’s have a chat

This post is going to be a random conglomerate.

Landon got his permanent cast on yesterday.  He picked a fiery red cast.  They decided to cast him all the way up above his elbow even though the fracture was in his wrist.  Otherwise he might be able to pull the cast off.  I saw the X-Rays.  He broke both the ulna and the radius just above the growth plate.  We’re thankful the growth plate wasn’t affected at all!

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 He’s proud of his cast.  And Steve the monkey got a cast too because his arm was hurt.  So everyone is healing.

 Tia seems to be a little jealous.  She told me she wished she had a ‘puwple tast’ for her arm.  Here she is pretending she has a cast like her brother.  Landon’s trying to figure out how to navigate the world left handed.  Watching him eat brings a smile to my face.  Half the time he misses his mouth, the other half the time he shoves the fork down his throat.

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Lee has found the silver lining in this whole broken wrist ordeal.  “He’ll get tons of practice dribbling the ball left handed,” Lee said, his eyes getting all glassy and dreamy.  So, you know, he’s got that going for him…

My kids, like all kids, wear me out daily with their constant fighting, whining, tattling and arguing.  But it’s moments like this one that we had last night…

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…that energize me and give me the strength to get through one more day.  I am writing this at 7:48 in the morning and the kids are screaming at each other behind me.  I keep looking at the picture to remind myself that there are sweet moments to look forward to.

Speaking of being energized, you can read my latest post over at 5 Minutes for Mom.  It’s all about how I’m actually NOT supermom.

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 Tia had her last day of perschool yesterday.  I’m so excited for summer break.  I have all sorts of lofty goals and plans for the kids.  We’ll see if I can stick with it or if I cave and let them watch TV all day long.  Just kidding, I would never do that…

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Lee and I started the P90X workout this week.  I can’t move anything from my neck to my ankles without gasping in pain and I’m walking like a ninety year old woman with a hunchback.  It’s intense but so far we’re enjoying it.  Except for the Abs workout, which I’m fairly certain was developed by Lucifer himself.  Seriously, if I cough or sneeze I have to hold onto something to offset the pain.  Fun

I had a whole paragraph (or two) written about the Arizona Immigration bill and my horror at the President’s audacity to stand up next to a foreign President and publicly call out another State.  I’ll save you my rant, but will say that we are the United States of America.  We don’t need a President who’s a man of all Countries.  We need him to be the man of the People, which is what we elected him for.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Now I’m going to hobble my way to the bathroom to start getting ready for the day.  I will attempt to brush my hair, but given that it hurts to raise my hands above my shoulders I may have to lay a hat down on the bed and shove my head into it…

He had to be first

Alternately titled: Those Third-Born’s Are Gonna Get the Attention Any Way They Can…

Sloan is the vivacious first born.

Tia is the only girl.

Landon is the third born who gets left behind a lot.

So he has to make a name for himself in this world.

One way he’s done that?  Being the first to break a bone.

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We have our first experience in a cast around here.  We’re not entirely sure what happened.  We were eating dinner.  One minute Landon was in his seat – the next, he wasn’t.  He came up gagging and choking on the chicken in his mouth, so you know, we had heart attacks. 

When we all recovered from that we noticed his wrist was limp.  He wouldn’t move it, wouldn’t grasp anything, didn’t want us to touch it.  He also got lethargic and sleepy, so we immediately worried about a concussion.  Rather than take any chances (Sloan had a concussion when he was 18 months old.  We waited several hours to go to the hospital and he ended up on an IV) we decided to take him to the ER.

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By the time we got to the hospital he had perked up a bit, but still refused to use his hand.  Two hours later we came home with him in a temporary cast.  I get to call the Ortho today to get him set up ith a permanent cast. 

Goody.  Just in time for swimming weather…

He didn’t have a concussion, though and despite his arm in obvious pain, he’s back to his usual self.

So there you have it – the third born has made a name for himself.  He was the first.

Yay!

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She is Mom

Today is my mom’s birthday.  And I can’t think of a better way to celebrate her than to publicly affirm how much I love and appreciate her.

My mom is an amazing woman.  She is beautiful, strong, funny, kind and giving.  Where I struggle to remember birthdays and important occasions, my mom always remembers to send a card, a box, a gift, something to make sure that person feels like they are the most important person in the world.

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My mom gives sacrificially of her time, sometimes to a fault.  She has spent countless hours holding, cuddling, sleeping with, playing with and loving on my kids.  Not because she has to and not because I need her to (though sometimes I do need it) but because she loves me and them so deeply and wholly.

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My mom really, truly loves to play with my kids.  I think she enjoys it more than I do at times!  She has spent so many hours digging in the sand with them, collecting seashells and exploring the beach.  Here at home, she always makes sure to have an adventure ready for them, whether it be setting up a “clubhouse” in a closet for them or pulling out the paints and letting them get down and dirty.  And thank God for that because painting is not one of my favorite activities.

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My mom is a prankster.  If you ever find an old toilet in your yard or a headless stone goose, there’s a good chance she’s behind it.  She has a wicked sense of humor that’s masked behind her innocent exterior.  Don’t let her sweetness fool you, though - she’s trouble…

Growing up, my mom poured herself into my brother and I.  She was the pioneer minivan mom – always in the car driving us to this practice and that friend’s house.  She was at every gymnastics meet, track meet, hockey game, band concert and school play.  And she wasn’t only present, but she was active in cheering and I’m quite certain she clapped the hardest and the loudest. 

When I was eight, my parents took my brother and I skiing for the first time.  After the morning with an instructor on the bunny hill, we were ready for the big hill.  As she and dad rode up the lift behind us and the instructor, my mom was so intent on watching us and making sure that we got off okay that she forgot to get off herself.  Instead of letting them back the lift up, she jumped, twisted her knee and ended up with a torn ligament that required several weeks in a brace from her ankle to her hip.

My mom was beyond supportive of Brett and I.  In tenth grade, I had a lapse in judgement and decided I wanted to be a cheerleader.  Though mom most certainly knew that was not something I would enjoy, she nevertheless supported my desire and worked with me to prepare for try-outs.  And then, for the entire school year, she pushed me and required me to follow through on my commitment to the team even though I begged her to get me out of it.  I would fake sick, fake cramps, do anything I could to get her to call the coach and tell her I was too sick to cheer.  But mom would hear none of it.  And so I cheered, and she was in the stands grinning from ear to ear the entire time.

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My mom is a strong lady.  She has faced more heartache and hardship in life than many people will ever understand and yet you would hardly know it.  While she has every right to feel bitter and slighted, she chooses to enjoy the blessings of life.  “Life is too short to dwell on the heartache,” she once told me.  My mom doesn’t waste time playing the victim and I admire her deeply for that.

Mom has willingly and sacrificially opened up her home over the years taking in anyone who needed help.  She and my dad never questioned whether or not it was right – they just knew that there was a need to be met and they met it without hesitation.  It wasn’t easy on any of us, least of all mom, but she powered through and poured into the lives that came across her path without regard for the sacrifice.  I don’t think she knows what an impact that has had on me.  It was difficult, yes, but it’s made me much more aware of the needs of others and what my role is in supporting those who need support.  Mom’s sacrifice showed me what true loyalty meant.

When I was four or five, my mom attempted to fix my beloved doll, Big Baby. (My creative prowess runs deep, folks).  Because I carried Big Baby around by her hair, her neck was broken causing her head to hang at a crude angle.  I remember very vivdly mom taking Big Baby’s head off to see if she could somehow fix her neck.

Mom swears up one side and down the other that that never happened.  But don’t believe her – her memory fails her.  She also believes that she has never cussed in front of me.  Because she is a proper lady, she hasn’t very often, but there were a couple of times where she let a four letter word rip when I was a kid.  I remember those moments vividly because I knew that she was at the very limit of her limits and that she meant business.  So if she tells you she’s never said a dirty word, don’t believe that either.

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 My mom has always very intentionally built my dad up in front of my brother and I.  I never doubted her love for him or his for her.  While they didn’t try to hide disagreements from us as kids, I rarely remember them really angry with one another.  What I remember more than anything is how much they laughed together.

My mom has trekked the globe for and with Brett and I.  When I spent the semester in Ukraine, I called one afternoon feeling particularly lonely.  I had no other Americans to talk to and I was feeling very isolated.  Mom rallied the troops and had friends and family send me encouraging letters and emails.  And then she took it a step further and booked a ticket to come visit me.  It was 20 degrees below zero, but mom took the hour long adventure with me every morning to school and while I was in class, she explored the city. 

My mom is a ballsy chick.  She has no problem taking off on her own, no matter where she is in the world.  She loves a good adventure and isn’t afraid to try new things.  I love that about her.

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I could go on and on about my mom.  There are so many wonderful things to say.  But I will end it now by saying that I admire her deeply and am so grateful for the example that she has set for me.  I love you mom!

Happy Birthday.

If you have any birthday wishes for my mom, please share them!  Let’s give her a little comment love today!

To Arkansas and Back

We spent a lovely, relaxing week in Arkansas last week where we kicked off our time celebrating the graduation of Lee’s youngest brother from the University of Central Arkansas.  Zach was thirteen when I first met him.  He was fourteen when Lee and I got married.  And now he’s all grown up, has a job and is such a great guy.  I’m so proud of him.

I’m getting verklempt.  Talk amongst yaselves.  I’ll give you a topic.  The Partridge Family was neither a Partridge nor a family…discuss.

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We heard rumors that Kris Allen (also a UCA alum) was at the graduation.  Actually, it wasn’t a rumor – Zach’s girlfriend got stuck behind the mob of young fans wanting his autograph.  I didn’t see him, though, and it’s too bad because I think he’s a doll.  I would have stared.  I’m not afraid to admit it.

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My son is a goofball.  Seriously, where does this kid get his over the top personality?  Lee and I are so reserved and shy…

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My sister-in-law, Becke’, photographer extraordinaire, sat down and gave me some great photo tips.  I learned about ISO (they’re like worker bees.  Trust me…), f-stop, shutter speed, and how the three work together to create the perfect exposure.  I learned how to shoot in Manual mode and, while I need a lot of practice (I still can’t take a decent picture indoors) I came away taking better pictures from just one session.  I’m telling you – Becke’s good.

(She is equally skilled, incidentally, at killing mutant Arkansas wasps that better resemble a hummingbird than a wasp using nothing but a Steno Pad and sheer force while others, who are less brave than she, look on.  Don’t ask me how I know this.)

Flowers are the best practice subject.  They have vibrant color, unique shape and they’re still while you take their picture.  Not like my kids who are apparently allergic to sitting still.

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See that blurry background?  I set that!  I determined how much blur I wanted (the f-stop, if you will) and adjusted my shutter speed and ISO to match.  Me!  Let’s all do the happy dance together, shall we?

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Now I just want an editing software.  I am hereby entering every contest I come across for Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say I need Lightroom or Photoshop, but my want is riiiiight on the border of a need.

Besides photo lessons and graduation, we enjoyed an abundance of family time.  We ate out every night – and when I say every night, I mean every.single.night.  My stomach is in rebellion.  I’m on a bit of a detox today of dried fruit, water and green tea.

We watched the kids soak up as much cousin time as they possibly could.  From putt-putt to Wii, those kids relished every moment together.  I loved playing with my cousins growing up and have so many cousin memories, so I’m excited to see my kids building the same memories.

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The lone girl.  She held her own with all those boys, even trying to convince her older cousin that she had boy parts.  We’re still trying to get her to understand that she is, indeed, actually a girl

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The baby of the family was so thrilled to be invited along with all the big kids that I thought he might actually jump out of his skin on the way to play golf.

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Sam – the concentrator.

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Cade – the sports nut.  Feel the emotion.

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Eli – the cut up.

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Sloan – the one who’s here to have fun.

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We are officially back to life, back to reality.  But – glory! – school is almost over.  Tia has three days left.  Sloan has ten.  I can’t wait for summer vacation. 

How long do you think it will take for me to wish school would start up again?