Winter In November?

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It’s our first snow day here in Ohio! My kids are thrilled (I’m a little behind here on PPP while keeping up with them), but I thought you might enjoy a peek. After having to come up with ways to become a wee bit creative to enjoy winter last year down in Alabama, this is a big treat for them.

(Remind me of that in January – rumor has it this is the earliest snow day they’ve had in years here so you can bet I’m a little worried.) ;)

 

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Has it already snowed in your hometown this year? I don’t keep up with the weather much at all, but I’m afraid it looks like we’re in for a long winter!

 

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Praying With Your Children (The Addendum)

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Time for some random rambling today ~ if you’re here just for the deals (I understand!) scoot on past to the next penny pinched post. ;)

Some of you may remember probably my favorite ever post sharing how I started praying with my kids when they were tiny.

 

Well, all too quickly my kids are getting bigger (ugh), but the most amazing transformation has happened.

 

A few weeks ago, I was in a hurry (I’m always in a hurry), and rushed my kids along to bed. I was working on the computer and told them I’d be there to tuck them in shortly.

 

Shortly turned into not-so-shortly, and when I finally made it upstairs I found two cute girls in the middle of the floor of one of their bedrooms, Bible in one girl’s hands and a children’s devotional book wide open.

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(This is the one they found – similar to this one.)

I plopped down next to them, snuggled in close, and they led me in a much needed bit of quiet time.

 

Three weeks later, at about 8:12 each night, my girls call me upstairs for our quiet time together. When I told them a few days ago that I was way too busy to make it up, my eleven-year-old informed me that I needed our quiet time more than she did.

 

Ahem.

 

I really don’t know how I ended up so lucky. (Seriously folks, I would never have dreamed this future for my family!) But what I’m loving about this precious time is that even when I don’t take the time to slow down a bit, my children call me to this happy little place each night where we can talk about our fears, thank God for the good stuff, and just love on each other a bit.

 

The devotionals are quick – last night we talked about making new friends and the night before was about not being anxious (which I needed to remember way more than my girls did!)  The best part is that at the end of that time we say a quick lay-it-all-out-right-out-loud prayer, and my girls are starting to pray the verses that we discuss each night.

 

How amazing is that????

 

If you have a little one at home, and feel like you want to pull your hair out instead of pray with them some many? days, I promise (promise) there’s a really fun light at the end of the tunnel.

 

I promise that those lessons you instill today will give you the most precious grace for tomorrow.

 

Even if you’re not the praying type, consider taking just a few minutes to wrap that little one up in your arms and let them know just how precious they are before you tuck them in tonight. (Doing just that might just turn you into the praying type.) ;)

 

Turn off your computer. Put away your cell phone. Don’t check those Facebook or Instagram notifications and instead spend a few minutes of face-to-face time with the ones closest to you.

 

I promise, wholeheartedly, that you’ll be plain old amazed at what kind of grace will cover you.

 

And just to be clear, my kids still fight with each other. They still tell me no when they don’t like what I’ve told them to do, still leave their shoes out all over the place, still talk back sometimes and drive me a wee bit crazy some (many?) days. I still holler at them sometimes too. We are oh-so-far from having it together, but if there’s grace for this mess of a momma, there’s grace for you too. ;)

 

 

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How My Seven-Year-Old’s Perspective Changed

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Good.ness.

 

Can I just promise you what a blessing giving is?

 

Last Friday night, as I was packing for a trip, my seven-year-old snuck around our closet and came across some hidden treasures for our Operation Christmas Child Shoebox. (Remember when I found a bunch of clearance items at Target last month to give? Yup, she found it too.)

 

Her eyes lit up, and she was so excited because she just knew she’d hit the new-toy-jackpot. I explained to her though that the treats weren’t for us, but rather for us to share with kids who might not have any Christmas without them.

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Oh my. That girl was mad.

 

She didn’t get it, and absolutely knew she was deserving of every trinket in the box. Honestly? She was a wee bit irate that none of it was for her. (And, honestly? I was a wee bit irate with her for not getting that she needed absolutely none. of. it.)

 

I stopped my packing, pulled her up in my arms, and tried to explain a little bit more about the program and who would be receiving those tiny gifts. (Even though we’ve filled Operation Christmas Child Boxes for years, she still needed the reminder.)

 

Then I grabbed my laptop, and we sat down in the middle of the floor of my closet and watched a few of the Operation Christmas Child videos.

 

My girl’s heart changed. completely.

 

I encouraged her to separate the items into a few different boxes, and goodness, watching her expression soften and change to excitement for someone else’s gift melted this momma’s heart.

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“They’re gonna love our stuff,” she said.

 

“I’m glad that I’m helping this year,” came next.

 

And finally “My heart just feels so happy right now momma.” 

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She then decided to spend a little of her own money to buy them a few extra gifts this year. ;)

 

Folks, I have no idea where your finances are at right now, but if you’re in a place where you do have some extra to give, I encourage you to find just the right place to share this year. Whether it be packing a box with your kids for Operation Christmas Child, donating to a local food pantry, or even just giving of your time to help someone in need, you will be blessed more than the one you’re giving to will. Promise.

 

As a family we’ve struggled a bit recently with gratitude, and there’s nothing like giving to someone else in need to completely change our perspective. And, while I think traveling on mission trips to share the good news with others is wonderful, I also believe there are seasons in our lives when there is simply so much good we can do right here at home. With the power of the internet, our children can get a glimpse of ways to give abundantly to those who live in a completely different world than our own.

 

Looking for more posts like this? Here you go:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Discipline.

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Came across this quote today and goodness, I needed the reminder. ;)

 

What do you want most right now? Determine today to wait for the very best, and don’t sacrifice what you really want for what you want right now.

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PPP Five Year Blogiversary Giveaway Coming Tomorrow

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First giveaway is live – enter to win HERE!

Goodness gracious, I can hardly believe this but I’ve been typing from this side of the screen and on over to you for exactly five years this month.  WOW!

 

What I completely started on a whim turned into something I never would have imagined, and I can hardly believe I’m still hanging out here with you each day. In case you haven’t figured this out (~ahem~), I’m just a mom. I don’t have any degrees in marketing, advertising, or journalism . . . in fact, I’m in sheer amazement each day that so many folks take time to read what’s here on PPP.  (It’s all I can do just to keep this technologically-challenged brain on top of things most days!)

 

Blogging has changed my life so much these last five years that I can hardly imagine life without it.  It’s given this kind-of-shy-goofy-not-very-confident mom a little presence on the internet, taught me so much about what I’m really passionate about, instilled in me the importance of some serious determination, and been just a wonderful gift (despite the ridiculous number of hours it’s taken to keep it together. Yikes!)

 

I looked back to my very first post back in October of 2009 on “publixpennypincher.blogspot.com” (when I made myself “pretend post” for a few weeks to see if I even enjoyed sharing deals at all.) Here’s what it looked like . . . ;)

 

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(seriously folks, we’ve come a long way ~ it took me a whopping six months just to learn how to hyperlink!)

 

I feel so incredibly blessed to have this virtual home here with you, and am simply overwhelmed that you take time to read what’s here each day. I love how this has completely changed our family’s ability to give as well as beefed up our children’s college funds, and having you all to chat with each day has helped me through some crazy difficult times.

 

(I know that sounds nuts, but you all are just the nicest cheering section!)

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To top that all off, last week we reached ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND FACEBOOK FANS (WOW!) So, of course we need a little giveaway to celebrate, don’t you think? ;)

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Tomorrow, watch for some seriously fun giveaways (hint: think Kitchenaid & Amazon ~ both!) I’ll be starting out early in the day and can’t wait to share, so be watching.

 

Thank you so much for sharing this little spot with me each day – I’m so very thankful for you!

 

And on a very important side note, I do NOT do manage all of this by myself most days. A big thanks to my friends Cheryl, Misty, Susan and Staci who help out with various tasks around here when I need them, and a HUGE thanks to Shannon (who y’all know is a rockstar.) ;)

 

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The Smartest Financial Decision We {Accidentally} Made

Goodness, I have been so hesitant to share this but feel like there might be someone out there who needs to read it. Please know that I grew up in a single-parent home and I COMPLETELY know that for many of you this is not an option (I don’t know how you single mommas do it all!), but I felt like it was something worth sharing. And I know that we ALL come from different financial places, but this is something that’s changed our finances and might help you out too!

 

My husband and I had a long drive back this weekend with three sleeping kiddos in the car after visiting Cedar Point for a conference, and started talking about our finances (and really, how we got from HERE to HERE.)

 

A long time ago (way back in 1996 to be exact), we decided as a young married couple that we wanted me to be able to stay at home with our kids. So, when we bought our very first little-fixer-upper house (even though I was working), we based every financial decision we made on my husband’s income alone. (I never made much more than minimum wage, so it wasn’t all that difficult a decision in some ways!)

 

In fact, when I sat down to interview for a better paying position in my first job, the interviewers asked, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

 

Naively stupidly (at age twenty-one), I replied, “Um, I really just want to be a mom.” ;)

 

Yup, moving up the ladder to success with that position clearly wasn’t going to happen.
That very clueless comment was the truth though, and shaped the way we looked at every financial decision we were faced with. It made us purchase homes that we could afford on just one income (even while we both worked outside the home), and forced us to stay frugal when our children were small as we were determined to stick it out.

 

That’s when we learned to just live a frugal life. And how to clip coupons. And how to watch our grocery prices. And it’s when we decided that we wouldn’t live in debt other than our home.

 

Fast forward 18 (really?) years.

 

All those things I learned in those early days apparently paid off, and I’m lucky enough to write about them for a few several hundred thousand readers each month. (Can I just tell y’all that’s crazy?????) And while this blog does now earn an income (learn more about how to make money blogging HERE and HERE), we’ve chosen not to spend any of the money we make from it.

 

(We have spent a little of the income on a few specific splurges, but the bulk of it goes towards saving for our kid’s college and for giving.)

 

I wish I could give you just a taste of what it feels like to have that financial freedom after years of working towards it. It’s still so weird to know that if something unexpected comes up our finances are in decent shape (which was an incredible blessing during our recent move!), and  I wish I could just let you feel for a moment the peace that comes with that.

 

Do you know what’s the coolest thing about our decision? That one choice has given me so much freedom as a business owner. (I really don’t think of myself as a business owner, more a crazy-momma-who’s-too-excited-not-to-share-a-deal-with-you all day long? Ahem.) Our choices early on gave me the opportunity to learn this crazy blogging thing; it gave me wisdom in an area that some folks don’t really understand; and it gave me the ability not to worry about making an income while I was learning the ropes of blogging and running a business.

 

We didn’t make the decision to live on one income purposefully because we wanted an extra savings account or extra cash flow or anything. We simply decided that it’s what we wanted for our own family (and don’t feel like it’s bad at all for moms to work – it was just what we hoped for when we looked at our future!) However, in a crazy turn of life, it’s turned out to be the best financial decision we could ever make.

 

I have no idea where your family’s finances are at. I do know that we are incredibly blessed to be in this position after many years of hard work, and I know that it simply won’t work for some folks.

 

But, maybe you’re a young couple just looking at your future and trying to determine where you really want to go. Maybe you’re a mom thinking about re-entering the workforce now that your children are a wee bit older. Or maybe you’re a family that does have two incomes, and have never considered trying to live on one and allowing the second to go towards savings.

 

I encourage you to maybe consider what life would look like with just one income (if that’s even a possibility – I know it absolutely won’t work for everyone!)  Even if you have two incomes (which is fantastic if both of you love your jobs – I’m not at all against mommas working here!), consider what would happen if you continued those jobs and chose to live on just one income to allow the excess to bulk up your savings account?

 

I firmly believe that the only way we did it in those early lean years was by clipping coupons and shopping the sales ads.  Even today our grocery budget rarely exceeds $300 a month, and I talk to so  many folks who are spending two to three times that on groceries alone (almost enough to be a second income alone!)  Please understand that I know this won’t work for everyone, but as we’ve watched the peace that’s come from years of penny pinching, I guess I don’t want to miss this opportunity to tell you something that we (truly accidentally) learned along the way.

 

Your turn now? I’ll be honest, I’ve been a little afraid to share this post as I hate the thought of offending anyone, but I’m so thankful (truly, overwhelmingly thankful) for the peace that we’re finally feeling after so many years of penny pinching.  I just wanted to mention it as a possibility to consider, and would love to hear your thoughts too.

 

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Not Quite Perfect (But Still Really Good.)

(My littlest might just be the picture of not quite perfect but still really, really good!)

 

I absolutely love reading The Nester.  In fact, her tagline (and now the title of her book) “it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful” rings over and over in my head oh-so-often when I’m fluffing up my home.

 

It reminds me while I’m adding a few knick knacks to my kids’ rooms that just fluffed a bit and not-even-close-to-perfect is okay.

 

It encourages me while hanging wallpaper (eek!) that if there’s a teeny-tiny flaw somewhere along the way, it’s really not the end of the world.

 

And it allows grace, knowing that even if my home doesn’t look like Martha Stewart just stopped by  to decorate (or goodness gracious, the Nester herself . . .), the home that my family comes home to each day is really just fine.

 

And guess what else? It’s a reminder that our lives are exactly the same way.

 

Last night, after a long day of putting kids on buses, missing them (a tiny bit?), mourning a little over missing my traditional back-to-school breakfast with good friends (not quite worth a drive to Alabama . . . ), hating that there was no one to knock on my door for a 5AM run, and just feeling a little more lost in this new home of ours, my running buddy texted to check in on the day. I was whining (so much more than I deserve to!), when she sent this text (I hope it’s okay to share Carrie!)

 

 

WOW.

 

She hit the nail on the head, didn’t she?

 

My home doesn’t have to be perfect. But it’s good.

 

My kids don’t have to be perfect. But they’re good.

 

My situation for today is not just perfect. But it’s good.

 

And really, my life won’t likely ever be perfect.

 

But it’s (really, really, really) good.

 

 

I went to bed last night thinking about how God’s grace showers me so much more than this crazy-mess-of-a-momma every could have imagined.  Right now things aren’t perfect, but my life is so much better than I ever deserved.

 

If you’re struggling along and feeling like nothing’s just quite right in your own life ~ know that nothing really ever is just quite right.

 

(Well, maybe it is . . . I just haven’t seen it yet?) 

 

Beyond the facades we see of cute folks on the outside, hide a bunch of other folks feeling not-so-perfect too. But that doesn’t mean that a single one of us ~ nor a single one of our lives ~ isn’t  good.

 

Be encouraged that your not-quite-perfect home, not-quite-perfect kids, and maybe even that not-quite-perfect husband (ahem?), is probably pretty darn good. Cling tight to the good in your life right now today in the midst of where you’re at.  I’m holding on to my not-quite-perfect too. ;)

 



I’d love for you to comment and share your thoughts too ~ I love hearing from you!

 

 

 

 

 

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Ohio State Fair Fun

We had so much fun this week at the Ohio State Fair, and I thought you all might enjoy a peek! We haven’t gone to a state fair since living in Kentucky almost ten years ago, so it was fun to check out the food, rides, and (my favorite!) the exhibits. (I’m telling you what, next year I’m coming up with a recipe to enter in the fair – my family’s already debating what they want me to bake so that at least once a month for the next year they get to test it!)


I will tell you that the fair is far from penny pinched. If you have little ones, try to steer far from the rides (which is tough to do!), because just the exhibits are neat to see and don’t cost anything more than the fair’s admission. (We found discounted tickets at our local Kroger store.) We ended up purchasing $45 in ride tickets which was more than enough for my kids (thankfully they’re not big riders), and I kind of wish we encouraged them to just pick a ride or two, because they really would have been content with that.

 

My husband and I have always loved visiting the fair for the people-watching, to see what kind of ridiculous food’s being concocted, and I love checking out the cake competitions and handwork items. It’s just fun to see what people can do!  Okie dokie . . . here’s what we saw ~ on what had to be the prettiest night I’ve ever seen in July. ;)

 

 Tried out Fried Buckeyes – they were so good! Fried Grilled Cheese . . . um, not so good ;)

Noticed the Sloppy Donuts ~  yikes ;)

My Reagan who’s always been fascinated by pigs (hence the pig overalls her Uncle Jack got for her) got to see her first piggies up close and personal. 

After petting this one, she said “They’re so sort ~ that makes me love piggies even more!”

 Then we saw this monster boar~ at 1440 pounds, it was not what we think of when Reagan says she loves piggies!

We also checked out a few pigs and bunnies (and made those goofy faces for some reason?)

Saw huge tractors . . .

and a few little ones too.

Checked out some fantastic train sets, 

milked Buckeye Bessie,

 and loved seeing the cookies, cakes and mode towns on display.

My son is convinced I’m making him that cake next year for his birthday (I promise to post pics when I do . . . ) :)

 And I loved looking at the quilts and handiwork on display.

All in all it was a fun but-not-so-penny-pinched afternoon, and we loved seeing all Ohio has to offer! Hope you’ve been able to do something extra fun this week with your family too. ;)

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Be Awesome.

Photo credit ~ you can get your own free printable HERE (love that!)

Yesterday I made a quick trip to Sam’s to treat my kids to a bargain lunch and pick up a few groceries. (Did you see where the deals are at Sam’s?)

 

We made a beeline for our  pizza and hotdogs as soon as we walked in the door, and the guy who served us was fast.

 

And efficient.

And awesome.

 

Do you know how much this hungry momma with even hungrier kiddos appreciated that? I bet you do.

 

We finished up our shopping and tried out the self checkouts that were fairly empty. There was a slightly disabled young man working there, and he hopped right to it to help me out. He hurried to get my items checked off, made sure I didn’t lift a thing (which took some extra effort on his part), and I had the nicest checkout experience I think I’ve ever had at Sam’s. Maybe anywhere.

 

He was awesome.

 

Sure enough, we handed an older gentleman our receipt to check off as we walked out the door, and he made a point to make small talk with my kids. He asked if they were ready for school to start, was genuinely kind to them, and just put smiles on the faces of my kids (who of course aren’t ready for school to start!)

 

He was awesome.

 

We then raced to get everything in the car before heading home, and as I was emptying my cart another worker walked over and let me know he’d take care of my cart (even though he was already pushing a jillion others.) He made sure I didn’t do anything extra, and sure enough took care of my cart (which I normally return on my own – unless I’m shopping at Publix of course.) ;)

 

Guess what? He was awesome.

 

It got me thinking – ever single one of these workers chose to wake up and be awesome at their jobs today. They weren’t getting paid huge wages, didn’t have any reason to work extra hard for me, but they each did it anyways.

 

In the midst of our shopping I’d hurried to take my girls to the bathroom. (I have one who’s determined to visit every single toilet in every single spot all over every single town she’s in. Ugh.) While I waited for them, I looked in the mirror and was so disappointed. I just didn’t look like the fun cute moms that I keep noticing all around me. (Did I say ugh? Thankfully, my family seems to like just the mom I am – I’ve got to get over that!)

 

While I was worried about the silly stuff ~ lines on my forehead and bags under my eyes ~ other folks were out there being awesome. I was worrying about stuff that just doesn’t matter, rather than letting my behavior do the work to show a little awesomeness.

 

How often do I worry about things that have no real value (and that I really can’t fix . . .), instead of choosing to be awesome? How often do I just muddle along, half-doing this job of mommy-ing, cleaning my home, and being a wife, while I could instead step up and share a little awesome?

 

What if I decided to be awesome while driving carpool?

 

And showed some awesome every time I cleaned the kitchen sink?

 

 

And even showed awesome each day while folding laundry? Or scrubbing the shower? Or  just cooking dinner? And (eek!) even while scrubbing the toilets?

 

What if my attitude even showed awesome to my husband when he walked in the door at night after having a the-kids-are-making-me-a-wee-bit-nuts-today-kind-of-day?

 

Today, I encourage you to work along with me and choose to be awesome too. No matter what God hands you – no matter where you’re at or what you’re doing, choose today to show a little awesome too.

 

(Wouldn’t it be fun if someone watched us as we worked at whatever our job was, and at the end of the day said “Goodness, that girl was just was awesome today”?)

 

That’s the kind of girl I wanna be. I’d love it if you’d join me too. ;)

 

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Amazon Vs. Coupon Deals: Where Are The Best Prices?

Okie dokie folks, I received a great comment on this post yesterday, and wanted to address it both for Peggy and for you. As you probably notice, I post alot of Amazon deals (which as I’ve shared do create a way to earn money for our family and others here on PPP.) BUT, I don’t post them only to earn income, and here’s why.

 

Believe it or not, there’s a little more thought that goes into posting here on PPP (and on most coupon blogs) than you can imagine. I watch what you all click over to read, see what people are most interested in, and try to share deals that are most beneficial to the largest number of readers.  What I’ve found in the last few years is that more and more often, readers are more likely to get excited about easy online deals than they are for coupon deals. There are literally times when Shannon and I spend huge amounts of time on large shopping scenarios to share, only to see that we get a few clicks on those compared to hundreds of clicks for online savings. We want to use our time wisely, so we focus mostly on what the majority of readers are interested in. (We want to be efficient in our time too!)

AND, I vet our deals constantly, working hard to post prices on online savings that are at the lowest or very close to the lowest prices they’ve ever been at.  This weekend Shannon and I Skyped and were discussing the great deal on diapers at Target this week. She’d done the math, and the best price ended up at $.12 per size one Pampers. That’s a great price, but there were quite a few hoops to jump through to get that deal!

Today, I happened to notice diapers were actually $.10 per diaper at Amazon (these were Luvs, so not high-end Pampers of course!), however  Huggies ended up being just $.12 per diaper  – the same price as Target without coupons or gift card deals. Now, I am all about a great deal, but my absolute number one favorite way to save is getting the very best price as easily as possible (especially for mommas who’ve got their hands full with busy babies!) So, to me this is a deal that I’m definitely going to post too, because I’m all about taking advantage of a deal and saving myself some time!

 

And like I shared in my comment with Peggy (you can read it HERE), there are only so many hours in my week to devote to PPP, so I’ve got to be smart in where I spend my time. Especially this summer, with a big move and three busy kids at home, I don’t have as much time to head to the stores and hunt down deals as I do during the school year. (I hope you understand!) So, it’s just easier to research online deals from home. Hopefully we’ll be back full-swing in another 6 weeks (but in the meantime I’m enjoying more time off with my family!)

 

I hope that makes sense, and I appreciate your (kind!) comments and suggestions on things you would like to see here on PPP so much. In all honesty, we just kind of live in survival mode here through the summer months (imagine hearing “MOOOOMMMMMMM” every time you type a sentence!), but all of that will settle down shortly. Hope you all understand, and I encourage you to always do the math to make sure you’re consistently getting the best deals!

 

If there’s something you’re missing on PPP that you’d like us to share more often, please leave a comment to share. I really do love hearing from you!

 

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