christmas, Holidays, home life, single parenting, Winter, Yule

Visiting Santa at Skagit Valley Gardens

Since we missed the correct date to see Santa last year I made an appointment to guarantee we would make it this year! 
This last Saturday we made it down with time to spare. Valentino was not a happy boy!


 But I was able to get some cute photos with the other kiddos. Ophelia and Settimio didn’t want to be in all of them but the professional photographer got a few. I get to pick up the photo cd next weekend, with all the photos the professionals took. So for right now I just have the photos on my phone. 


My oldest brother and his son met us there and my nephew  Jacob got to be in some of the photos too.

Skagit Valley Gardens always looks so magical with the many trees dressed up for Christmas. It is one of my favorite places to ornament shop, though I have to admit this isn’t quite so fun with all the little ones!

He looks so sweet when he isn’t crying!

Afterward we went back home for lunch, then headed over to Nanas to decorate some shortbread cookies. I never seem to get photos of that! Always too busy either helping or trying to keep a baby distracted. 
A little less smooth running than in years passed but all in all it was a nice day. 
These might be the last photos you see of Settimio with his luscious hair 😔 he wants me to shave his head over winter break!!

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recipes

Hummingbird Cake for Valentinos 1st Birthday

Today my little pumpkin butt is 1! Holy cow! The time goes so quickly. I have noticed the accelerated passage of time more as I’ve gotten older and had children. It’s easy to see as seasons pass, birthdays and holidays anticipated then quickly fly by. 


Well, today I made my squishy fella a Hummingbird Cake for his first birthday. I got the recipe years ago from a magazine and tweaked it here and there. It’s a pretty forgiving recipe. I’m not sure where the name “Hummingbird Cake” comes from but it consists of Bananas, Pineapple, Pecans, and various spices.  If you don’t have enough bananas it’s ok, too much pineapple, throw it in!  I also like to put in more pecans than called for and I chop them up as tiny as I can. Some people may prefer to keep the pecans chunks a bit bigger. Do what calls to you!
Top this delicious cake with cream cheese frosting and your tastebuds will thank you.

We’re going to make a layer cake!

-Pre-heat oven to 350 F

-Butter and flour three 9″ cake pans.

Grab a large bowl for the dry ingredients, add to it

3 cups flour

2tsp cinnamon

(I also like to grate a bit of fresh nutmeg, or throw in some allspice)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

Sift together or stir gently with a fork

To an electric mixer bowl add

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar

3 large eggs

Mix thoroughly then add

1 cup vegetable oil

2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix well then add all dry ingredients at once. Mix until moist and thoroughly combined.

Add

2 cups (4 large ripe) mashed banana

1 cup crushed pineapple (canned ok)

(Usually I use a whole can!)

1 cup chopped pecans

Mix until just blended.
Divide batter among 3 floured pans.

Bake at 350 F for 25 – 30 mins or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool for 5 mins in the pan then turn out into cooling rack until completely cool.

Frost with cream cheese frosting.

Cream together in an electric mixer bowl

8 oz cream cheese – room temperature 

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter – room temperature 

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 – 4 cups powdered sugar depending on your taste preference. I usually use less than more.

You may need to double this to cover the entire cake.

Store cake in the fridge (overnight is best so all the flavors meld and love each other). Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Voila!


So delicious even Mr. Zombie Pants will forsake his usual feast of brains to partake in this culinary delight.

We practice safe eating in this house! Baby on the edge of the table with a fork in hand!


New hat from Uncle Joe!

My mommy loves my sweet face! (Don’t mind the mess, We are still unpacking!)

I love lamp.

Peek-a-boo!

The sweetest smile! Melts my heart!

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birthdays, Chickens, children, home life, Homesteading, Spring

Assessing Growth (I spelled ass)

Thursday we celebrated Settimio’s 12th birthday. Sometimes it is hard to believe he is almost a man. He is nearly as tall as I am. I do think he will surpass me in height this coming year.
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Settimio chose banana pancakes for his special dinner. We also made 3 lbs of bacon!
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I have never been a fan of bacon but lately I’ve been enjoying it if it is cooked very crispy, almost burnt. He decided on a chocolate and peanutbutter ice cream cake so I picked one of those up from Dairy Queen, as well. Overall I think he had a nice birthday. Spring break started the next day so they got to stay up late watching a movie. Friday, was a reserved make up snow day, but since the kids had no snow days this year in our very mild Pacific North West winter they got the day off. Though, we did have to get up nice and early for a dentist appointment. Such a nice mom I am to schedule their dentist appointment on their first day of spring break! Ahhh.. they finally get to sleep in.. Nope! Gotta get up to be to the dentist at 9 am! Oh well, at least it’s done and over with for 6 more months.

Today is Saturday, day two of Spring Break 2016(!! Said like a stupid mtv announcer!!) and Fiammetta has a birthday party to go to in a little while. We have already been up for about 5 hours. Well, the 4 youngest kids and I have. The eldest 2 are still snug in bed, as they usually are on the weekend mornings (afternoons and eveings as well if I let them!). The littles have all eaten breakfast, made messes, cleaned up, gotten hurt, climbed trees,
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ran around inside and outside screaming, climbed the railings,
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etc.. etc.., and now are calmly watching a bit of television while I nurse the baby in bed. It is always very lively at our house. After vacuuming this morning I decided to go outside and assess (heh heh I spelled assess, I’m pronouncing it asses in my head) the growth of our garden and weeds. So many dang horsetails are coming up. I really dislike those things!

The other day when I was outside I tied a some disposable water bottles to a couple branches of one of our cherry trees.
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I need to do more branches so they grow downward instead of upward. Makes for easier picking in the future.
image I actually need to tie water bottles to all the fruit trees to train their branches downward. Must remember to pick up some more next time we head to costco!

I planted the fruit trees the first or second year we lived here, as well as a plethora of other plants. I planted a total of 2 different kinds of cherry trees, (here is our other cherry)
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a pear tree with different varieties grafted on, (the next 2 shots are the pear, it’s hard to see all the flowers in front of the other big flowering tree/bush behind it. Not sure what that one is called but it smells beautiful!)
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(The pear from a different angle, you can really see how vertical the branches are)
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and 3 grafted espalier apple trees. The apple trees really need a good pruning. They are not looking very espalier at the moment! I also planted a variety of other plants including a lilac bush/tree,
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a climbing hydrangea, 4 currant bushes, a spirea, (the spirea is in the foreground, the climbing hydrangea behind it)
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and some hostas.
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I don’t remember the variety of this one but it is the only one that survived. I love its variegated leaves!

The kids and the chickens followed me around the yard wanting their photos taken too. Every time I turned around there was a chicken! This is Goldie.
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I also got a couple of our cats Ginger
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(she looks like such a stuck up b**ch, she can be fiesty but she’s a sweetie)
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and Arya.
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Arya likes hanging out on the roof. She is all black but in the sun her coat looks red too, it’s very pretty. She also has extra toes on all her paws, and she doesn’t smell very good. I don’t know if it’s her breath or her butt, but it grosses me out a bit. 🙂 haha!

The Phlox I planted grows back thicker each year.
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When it flowers it looks so pretty and smells so sweet. This particular one has white flowers.

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This shot is going up the side of our house from our back yard up to the front. The first cherry tree I showed you is right up there just past the stone steps. The second cherry tree is right behind me. I used to have a whole bunch of creeping jenny, a ground cover type plant, planted along the side of the house. The creeping jenny was spreading so far it had almost covered the entire pathway. My sweet chickens have torn it all up and now use that area for dust baths. I need to move the tiny fencing, now it just looks weird! I would love to put more ferns or hostas toward the right side near the fence. We had over 100 – 150 strawberry plants in various places through out the garden but it looks as though the chickens have torn up and eaten them as well.

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Sal is so cute 🙂 we cut his hair the other day. He wanted me to but then wasn’t pleased with the results. At least it grows back quickly.
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A view from under our deck. To the left is the huge hydrangea that was here when we moved in. I’ve trimmed it down low multiple times since we’ve lived here. I wonder how large it would be now if I hadn’t! One tier down from where the shovel is are a few blueberry bushes our landlord dropped off 2 summers ago. They have a blueberry farm and were thinning out their crop so I asked for a few bushes. All back outside of our fence is a large field and blackberry brambles. To the right of this picture is our chicken coop.
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Stays snug and dry in the rain.
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This is going from our front door up to the road where we park. To the right is the garage. On the side of the garage is various plants including a fuschia. It’s very pretty in the summer. On the left is a citrusy smelling, yellow orange peony bush. It is just starting to bud.
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It smells so wonderful in the late spring/early summer.

I am hoping I will be able to stay more on top of weed pulling this year in the garden. Last summer was very unpleasant with the high temperatures while being pregnant and still trying to do the Farmer’s Market. This year I won’t be doing market because it has been extremely hard to get anything done with the new baby in arms minus a husband to occasionally help out around the house. I am keeping my etsy open and hoping to be back at market for the summer of 2017.

I need to get out in the garden soon with out the baby and get the horse tails pulled up before it gets out of control! Although I prefer the introspective, colder months I do find myself looking forward to the season of growth. I’m hoping to get a few more pots for the deck and expanding our herbs and tomatoes.

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Mishapocolypse 2017 that is for Ophelia 🙂 xo

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Chickens, children, home life, Homesteading, spirituality, Spring

Spring has Sprung!

Happy Easter, Ostara, Vernal/spring Equinox!! Spring is here! Heading into my least favorite time of the year.. but it still is beautiful and every day and season is a good time to be alive, even if I do prefer the darkness 😉

Here is a picture of some of my children and subsequent thangs..

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Sally is climbing the trees, Fifi and farmer girl Percy posing for a picture. Both in their salt water sandals. I kind of want to get myself a pair!

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A little sign for the front gate I picked up on amazon.com, wanted to warn people of the probable chicken poo!

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This is Coco.. don’t remember her breed but she isn’t fond of being picked up!

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Coco and Cute Chicken behind her.. They are both the same breed and the most skittish. They are still sweet and curious and all the girls follow us around when we are outside.

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Hi Cute Chicken! 🙂 That is what Persephone named her. And there’s our Peep in the background.

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Here’s Goldie, she’s a golden sex link and our most outgoing chicken. I usually get to hold her. She is also our most adventurous! Often times she jumps our fence and I will find her wandering the neighbors yards. Sometimes two or three houses over. She even explores the blackberry brambles out back.

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The only one I didn’t get a close up of was Peep. She is a Silver Laced Wyandotte. She is also pretty personable. You can see her on the far right of the coop. I put a blanket on the roof to help keep heat in during our winter. It was pretty mild here in the Pacific Northwest but we did get some chilly nights. Their coop is under our deck and it is pretty waterproof, so even when it rains little water gets under there.

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Fresh eggs! Our girls aren’t big on laying in their coop so I have to search the yard for newly preferred nesting spot. They switch it up on me every couple of weeks! It’s like a mini easter eggs hunt, except instead of candy filled eggs I get to find a clutch of these beautiful brown, sometimes spotted, protein filled, treasures..  It’s kind of fun to find the new nest, like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

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I will leave you with a picture of me and my little sweetie, Valentino. He’s wearing one of the little bubble suits that I hand embroider and sell in my etsy shop. I love Peter Rabbit baby things, and Beatrix Potter books and illustrations. To me she captures the true essence of innocence and childhood. Happy Spring to all! May yours be filled with all the lovely things in life!

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Elements, Uncategorized, Winter

Forces of Nature

We first moved in to our home in March of 2012. This year we have lived here for four years.  Settimio was the first one in our family to celebrate his birthday here.  Our house was still so sparse and there was much unpacking to do!

We have spent four winters in this little house by the bay. One winter we had a light dusting of snow that melted before the kids came home from school. This winter has been by far the wettest I’ve seen here. There has been almost constant rain and we’ve had our little road flood numerous times. There has been standing water on our road almost the entire winter. It will slowly drain away only to be replaced a couple days later with more rain water. At one point the city closed the road and had people come in to fix the drainage problem. The back field behind our house has looked more like a lake than grassland.

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off my back deck, looks like a lake! to the far right is the bay. to the middle and left is supposed to be a field!

Last night we went to sleep with the wind blowing and howling through the trees up and down our little valley. We live just outside of city limits on a little plot of land between two bays.  The bays lie North and South of us, East and West of us are two hills.  We live on the lower end on the West hill.  So, when the wind gets blowing it just whips right through here, it can be pretty amazing.  Quite a few trees have fallen this winter and knocked out electricity for a time.  The power company is pretty good and usually gets the electricity back on quickly.  I don’t think we’ve gone longer than one night without.

Throughout the night I woke to the wind blowing against our little house. At times I worry that the trees might fall and land on our roof but they seem to be pretty sturdy.

This morning I awoke to the wind blowing and Ophelia telling me to come look at the water of the bay blowing up and onto the road.  Water on the road is not new, but never before have I seen it come from the bay side.  I came out to see and there looked to be two little waterfalls flowing from the bay down into the road.

 

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I have never seen the water this high before.  Some of the driftwood are pushed up off the beach onto the grassy area and the waves are spraying up.  It’s hard to see but the little waterfalls falling into the road are off to the left.

There is a little hill built up by the bay, presumably to keep the water in or out depending on your point of view.  I heard that before the road was built the water from the bay came all the way up behind our house.  Beautiful, scary, and amazing this wind has been.

 

I love the noise and watching the clouds fly by, the bright morning sun breaking through the clouds illuminating the earth making anything with a wet surface shine like liquid silver.

It truly is beautiful and you can feel the power emanating from the elements.  I’m surprised we still have electricity, though oddly and unexpectedly we don’t have water. A water main has broken but thankfully crews are on there way to restore them.  As I sit here writing I can hear the mighty wind whoosh through while my chickens cluck and bawk at the inconvenience of it all!

Days like this I love to open all the windows and doors and let the fresh air flood in, giving the house a much needed cleansing. It’s a wonderful feeling lying in the warm bed with the baby softly snoozing beside me feeling the cold, clean air around us.

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children, divorce, home life, Ikea, journal, painting, single parenting, Uncategorized, Visitation

I’m Wide Awake

It’s the middle of the night and I should be sleeping in my warm bed with my children.  The past couple of weeks I’ve had all 4 little ones in the bed with me.  Besides my king size bed I have a set of bunk beds in my room.  Fiammetta usually sleeps in her own bed on the top bunk but lately she has been coming up with different reasons why she should sleep with us.. Mostly it’s because she’s scared of one thing or another. I’m ok with it.. I love having them all squished in there with me.  I think it’s most uncomfortable for her and Sal.  I keep me and the baby separated from the rest with a pillow between us.  That way the kids won’t roll over and accidentaly squish him.  I’ve been having trouble sleeping this past month.  I seem to fall asleep great, and some nights I can even stay asleep for the whole night.. (as much as one can while breastfeeding a 4 month old) But then other nights I wake up around 3 or 4 am and my mind is racing, jumping from one thought process to the next.  Tonight seems to be one of those nights. I think it may be because I have been falling asleep with the kids around 7 or 8 pm so by 3 or 4 am I’ve already had about 8 hours of sleep!
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Messy heap of blankets and babies

This past weekend the husband came down to visit with the kids.  He rented a hotel with a pool so the little ones would get to swim.  All three of them ended up staying over both nights with him.  That was a bit weird and sad.  I’m not used to sleeping with out them.  That was the only time besides when Valentino was born that Persephone has not slept with me.  I missed her tiny little body next to mine.  Every night she falls asleep holding my hand or putting her tiny chubby hands on my arms.  She’s very snuggly.  Last night I had her little hands on my arm and Salvatore fell asleep, next to Persephone, with his arm draped across her to hold my hand.  When I do wake up in the middle of the night I love hearing all of their soft breathing. They all have been sleeping pretty calmly.  It seems that if there is less of them in the bed that is when the wilder sleeping happens, when I will wake up with Percy upside down or laying sideways, to a little whimper, a sudden crazy scream, and less frequently there have been kicks or punches to the face from a dreaming little one 🙂  The latter three I can definitely live without!

So this Friday Alex came by to pick up the kids and take them out to dinner and they all decided they wanted to stay over night with him at the hotel.  So I packed them all up a bag and kissed and hugged my babes goodbye.  This is definitely not the way I wanted or imagined my family to be!  I knew it would be good for them, and for Alex, but it’s hard for me to let them go.  Saturday I was taking Settimio out for his early birthday date.  He wanted to go see Deadpool and I wasn’t sure it would still be out in the theatre at his real birthday a month later so we decided to go now when Alex would have the little kiddos.. Settimio and I went out to eat lunch at Anelia’s in La Conner, a Polish restaurant that two of my younger brothers work at; one as the Chef and the other as a waiter and prep cook. We had the brunch, Timio had the Joe breakfast hoagie made from french toast with bacon and home made sausage, I had a super delicious veggie omlete.  Ophelia stayed home and we took the baby with us, he had the breastmilk. After brunch before heading in to the movie we met up with Alex and the other kids at the mall.  He agreed to watch the baby for the 2 hours so I could watch the movie with Settimio.  At Salvatore’s birthday movie date in January we went to see the new star wars movie and I had to stand the whole time so the baby wouldn’t cry.  I really did not want a repeat of that so I asked Alex to watch Valentino for me so I could sit this time!  The 4 little ones and dad hung out at the mall playground for a couple hours.   The movie was pretty sweet.  Settimio covered his eyes a couple times during the less kid friendly parts 🙂 There was one sex scene, one strip club scene with boobs, a lot of crude humor and some pretty gruesome killing bits, way more than in the other superhero movies but Settimio is almost 12 so it wasn’t too terrible.  Definitely not a movie I would let the younger kids see. Overall we both enjoyed it!  After the movie I got Valentino, Salvatore and Settimio and we went home,  Alex was taking the girls to the daddy daughter dance that night!  This was his and Fiammetta’s 3rd and Persephone’s first time attending.  Little Percy has been so excited to go!  All year since the last one she’s been talking about going to the Daddy Daughter Dance.  They went out for dinner at Anthony’s, a seafood restaurant in town, one of Fiammetta’s favorite places.  After the dance they came by and got Sally so he could spend the night with them too.

I knew Sunday would be a long day!  My mom and I had plans to go to Ikea while Alex had the kids.  I suppose that is one good thing about the little ones being gone for the day, I can get a bit more stuff done!  Driving to Ikea from where I live takes about an hour and a half to two hours.  My mom drove down my brother’s empty van and I drove down my van with all seats but the the two front and the baby’s removed.  Ophelia and Settimio stayed home but we took Little V with us.  I was going down to get a couch, a rug, a bookcase and a bed frame.  We walked around and checked stuff out..It was crazy packed. I got all the crap I came for and we left.  That is the brief version because in reality that journey took all day!!  We got home just after dark and I had to unload all that heavy, heavy from the van.  Had the older two help while my mom held the baby.  It all ended up fitting in my brothers van so mine was empty.  No reason to have taken out my seats, but I’m glad I was prepared just in case!  Would have totally sucked if I didn’t take out the seats and ended up needing the room.  After we got every thing unloaded from the van and carried down the stairs into my house I realized that we grabbed the wrong size bed frame.. wah wah..  So this Saturday I will be making another lovely trip to Ikea to exchange the queen size bed for the proper king that I need.  I may buy a few candles that I passed up the first time.  When we got home Alex had already dropped the littles off and headed back up to the B’ham.  They were all watching t.v. when we arrived.  Good way to keep them preoccupied while unloading the loot.  I got the rug layed out  and the couch put together then headed to bed.. I was exhausted and my feet hurt from walking around all day on the concrete floor.

The past few days I have been getting stuff put together and painted.  I spray painted the shelf I bought a fancy gold.
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 I also did the same lovely gold treatment to some letter fridge magnets I have, classin’ up the place a bit.
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 The couch is in our upstairs living room.  I bought two white slipcovers for it.  That way when one is dirty, and I know it will be with my children, I can throw it in the wash and put the other one on.  I suppose we didn’t need a couch up here but I was tired of sitting on the chairs we have.
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My old “couch” wasn’t cuttin’ it.. though I did paint and reupholster those babies right after Persephone was born.

They weren’t too comfortable to sit in while trying to nurse The Newborn.  That’s what all the little kids call Valentino, I hope that remains his nickname until he’s an old man!!  We still call my little Joey brother Fetus, his nickname from babyhood.
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The new and improved version.. don’t mind all those canvases back there.. the gold shelf drying, the new rug nice and soft for fresh crawling baby knees, when that happens..

So now it is almost 5 in the morning.. hopefully I can fall back asleep and not feel too much like crap in the morning when I have to get up in one more hour to get the kids ready for school..

Goodnight world.  xoxo

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