Puerto Vallarta Day 1

November 29th, 2014 in About Me, Our Travels Worldwide

Tyler, the girls, and I ran away to Puerto Vallarta for two weeks. And then wanted to run right back and ask someone to watch our children so we could go back alone. I kid! (sort of) Our sweet angels must have been possessed for part of the trip, totally not their fault. Maybe someone put a voodoo spell on them while on the airplane because they had to listen to Reagan scream. In all seriousness we did have a blast and also cried because everyone was being so awful. Its ok to experience both at the same time and be honest about it, right?

Out of the 12 hours of flying I experienced 90 minutes of quiet bliss. This is when I was partnered up with only Shae. I did not hear the end of this for the entire trip. Even though the other 630 minutes I was with Reagan.

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You know we survived, it was not easy but not the worst. If you want to hear of the worst flight ever, I will tell you in private. And that is saying something because I will say/type almost anything out loud!

Finally we arrived. I think the hardest part of the whole trip for us were the custom lines. Have you ever had 4 children lying on the floor bawling and you can see tears in your husband’s eyes in a custom line? Everyone loved us in that line. But like I said, finally we arrived!

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We opted to stay home and send Tyler out to get some groceries and walk around. Boy was the home we stayed in gorgeous, take a look:

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Well now that I post those there are mainly just the views from the home. But trust me, the home itself was gorgeous.

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We were all just ready for a long rest. Until Reagan learned how to exit her crib on her own. I would barricade her crib with chairs. I would stay on the floor outside her room and peek into the room to push her back down if she was climbing them or to make sure she was ok. Then as soon as she would be fast asleep I would quietly remove all the chairs and barricade the stairs with no railing. Most of my trip was spent keeping Reagan alive.

Annual End of Harvest Dinner

November 15th, 2014 in About Me, Parties

My side of the family just had their yearly family dinner. I swore we had done it three times in the past but when I look in my blog history I can only find two posts. We did the cooking contest, taught the uncles how to do splits, took a nap on sister’s arms, got annoyed with each other, had fun with each other, had screaming kids, had kids having fun together. Wrecked poor mom and dad’s house. During a few points in the night we had on fake beards and mustaches. Who knew what was going on. All I know is that since half of us don’t have kids and I’m the only one done with adding kids to the family. Its going to get a whole lot crazier and random and loud and wonderful.

 

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The most important part of this post is I FINALLY WON!! Every year people up their game on the cooking contest. This year I sent everyone this picture below. I told them to make an appetizer AND a dessert using any of these ingredients.

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There was more secrecy this year….items placed under boxes, just numbers with a title for the items, a system. A whole system people! But some of us were working on them last minute so we still knew. There was a whole scorecard and tally system to this year. Even a kids choice! People, it gets more serious every year. The plates were numbered. Listen I didn’t plan the system, I handed that ball off to my sister. Which I would never like to pick back up again. It is getting stressful! But I do know we all tried everything and voted.

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Appetizer Runner Ups:

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Top Left: Fall Crostinis, recipe here

Bottom Left: Winston’s famous salsa and homemade chips

Top Right: Artichoke Dip

Bottom Right: My brother’s Nacatamales (Mexico and Nicaragua returned missionaries and these were GOOOooOooOd) Tutorial here

Appetizer WINNER…..ME, ME, ME, ME!

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Best part was this recipe was from my own cabeza, not from pinterest or google. They really were so good I will do a separate recipe post. But basically they are crostinis with a fig jam on the bottom. Then a slice of prosciutto and a slice of fontina. I made a fig, honey, and balsamic glaze to drizzle on top.

Desserts

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Top Left: My mom’s famous peanut butter truffle thingamabobs. This time she made them with pumpkin inside. We all got LUCKY because they were still very hard and frozen when we were taste testing them. If they had come to room temperature none of us would have won. She would have stolen the show because those are our FAVORITE. But she was busy you know…chasing grandkids, hosting, cooking, and cleaning. Lots of free time to think about how she should thaw things. I need to photograph her making these one day for a family cookbook.

Bottom Left: Caramel Apples. These were so good, some caramel apples are awful and hurt my teeth to eat. These were light and perfect. Laura made these and her and her husband won the Kid’s Choice in both sections. Recipe here

Top Right: Pumpkin Pie Cannolis by Sarah & Lucas (which was #1 in the dessert portion but nevermind about that, keep on reading to see that I finally WON!) Recipe here

Bottom Right: Bryan & Jonathan googled a recipe on the spot and made it. They were these pumpkin pecan bars. If they had been cooked 5 minutes longer and the chocolate  been thinner, we would have all been in big trouble. I want the recipe but fear I will never nag them enough to get it.

My Dessert:

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I THOUGHT everyone was going to do something with apples (do one did, they all did pumpkin) so I thought I would do something with pears. I did follow a recipe on Pinterest for baking caramel pears. I got three different pears, but two of the selections went bad before the competition. So I only used one. When I broiled the pears with the homemade caramel sauce in between each layer they turned super watery. So I do not want to share that recipe, I want to re do it. Because even with the mess ups they tasted fantastic and I know can be even better. I used fresh local made ice cream, sprinkled the inside of a vanilla bean on the top at the end. Then I decided last minute to make sugared cranberries and put those on top. People, I am going to perfect this recipe and post it here. You must make it for the holidays.

 

FINAL WINNER….ME ME ME ME!!

Our winner victory picture:

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My mom got her family picture. I was in charge of it so of course my camera died after 3 shots, I could not get back to my assigned spot in time for the timer, and I took them when it was too dark. My poor mom…. I promise I have kids and a husband, one isn’t there and all the others are sitting on everyone else’s laps.

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Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe

November 10th, 2014 in About Me, recipes

Abby whipped up this HEALTHY hot chocolate for the holidays. It is really rich, you will not miss the sugar or dairy. If you wanted it less rich you could even omit the melted chocolate.

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Have you ever whipped coconut milk for a whipping cream alternative? It tastes just as good BUT you have to remember to put the can in the fridge the day before. You can just google instructions on how to do it.

You can watch her how to below:

FROZEN starring the **Brown Girls**

November 9th, 2014 in About Me

Two Elsas and two Annas were what we had for Christmas. So in just our neighborhood Daybreak alone I bet they were the 876th Anna and 598th Elsa. Abby was mad about this and made me swear to her that next year she could be a mad scientist. I agreed.

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I feel bad for that near perfect first picture has Abby’s head faded out. So Abby….here ya go:

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Also other random note. If you ever were wondering what Tyler would look like in a dress and lipstick. See the above picture of Reagan.

we did all the autumn like things…

November 9th, 2014 in About Me

When Abby was a baby we decided on her birthday we would always take her to the zoo. After 4 years or so that got old and the tradition faded away. I feel like some of these fall/autumn traditions need to fade away as well. But never the fall hikes, leaves, and mountains. Never those.

My sister and her family came to visit the last week of October. So I saved all the fun outings for her, then some didn’t end up happening. Because we would meet each other and the park, pass out on the grass, and watch the kids play. Plans changed for some that left me scrambling to check them off on my own. For instance the only way we went to the pumpkin patch, carved, pumpkins, and had time to participate in a cooking contest was tricky. I had to wake the kids up early, take them to the grocery store in their pjs, eat breakfast while running around the grocery store getting items. Then go to the pumpkin patch before it was opened and have things ready by the time the owner pulled up to set up his register. Ran home, plopped the kids on the front lawn, and told them to carve their pumpkins. Shae just stabbed hers over and over with a little knife and told us all it was a zombie. DONE, done my love, looks fantastic. We also decided to BOO four neighbors with Utah Truffles candy and fresh farm cider. We did not get Booed back. So when we get back from Mexico I am getting us all Utah Truffles and fresh farm cider.

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We went to Cornbellys and Gardner Village like we normally do. Those things are losing some of their spark. I’ll have to ask the kids how much they like them, I can keep on going if they enjoy doing them. At one point I found myself annoyed at an older man who was sitting on the “picture bench” where I take the girls picture every year. When he finally left  and I had snapped the picture, I wondered to myself what am I doing? This is lame.  In the cornbellys chair picture the shots I have are Abby pouting big time or Cameron being whacky. But of course we still had fun, thanks to the sister and the neighbor friend for accompanying us. Next year though lets find a corn field, set them free, and lie on the grass and take a nap though.

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My favorite times this past fall were being in the mountains (no pictures), finding leaves to jump into, and watching deer in the woods.

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Just hanging around the lake with cousins was equally as perfect.

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My sisters, mom, and I did go up to Logan for the pumpkin walk. I just love Logan and could live there in a flash. But I need to remember that unless you spend the night it is a long day of driving for the pumpkin walk. So next year, we need to spend the night. Aren’t my nephews adorable? I don’t have one of Mr. Jackson in his sherif outfit I just realized. Probably because he is brand new and was bundled up against the cold.

Lets talk about being an aunt. I feel like I fail at this. I am tired, I do most of the work that has to do with our four girls. That isn’t a dig towards the husband. He provides a nice life for us and works his tail off for us. Being a business owner is a lot of work. He is still in the lot of work stage, which I hope will be dying down. And we can switch to the filthy owner business stage. Sign me up for that one! So back to the aunt thing, I am worn down. I remember birthdays. I try to give hugs, kisses, tell them I love them, and that is about it. Is that a good aunt? I hope so, it is all I have in me to do. My sisters are better aunts than I am. One day I hope to pay them back in having teenagers that will babysit for free.

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I took so many pictures of the pumpkin walk. We decided that the Author scene won. I didn’t take the best picture but every detail of the library (only half of it picture) and the characters were made with pumpkins. They even had little library cards sitting next to the characters made out of pumpkins. We also loved the feast scene from The Christmas Carol, that was an amazing use of pumpkins. The Mary Poppins set up had me singing at the end. No one was embarrassed. Shae begged to take a picture next to her favorite set up (The Tortoise and the Hare) and this girl is not a fan of taking pictures. So I clicked away!

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It was a nature appreciated, smushed too much stuff into the end, need to cut some stuff out, wish I could have my sister & nephews all to myself FALL.

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By the way the only creative thing I did was that door above. So I had to show it off, seriously, the only thing I did.

Cameron is *7* Native American Party

October 15th, 2014 in Parties

Cameron, Cameron, Cameron has the most fantastic mind. I want to be in her brain for a full day and just be able to see how she can see things and all her little ideas. She decodes dreams for people, has a manual for it, and a notebook she writes them down in. She taught herself through library books how to read palms. She is the one you go to for calming, she can read feelings well. But then she also loves to make people laugh. Right now she is trying to figure out her sense of humor I think. In a few of her classes her attempts at humor have not been….appreciated. So she is just learning how to handle herself. But humor her and when you see her laugh at her jokes. She needs it! Right now she adores her dance team and hates her dance technique class. All of her free time is spent begging to play Animal Jam. She is a big reader and I am amazed at how many chapter books she can get through a week. Usually she falls asleep when I go to bed, so she sits in her bed for a good 2-3 hours just reading. In the morning she will show me what books she started and finished. Friends are starting to become more important to her and she gets along with Abby (or I should flip that wording) much better this year. For Christmas she has asked for the same things a couple years in a row and Santa has ignored her request. But I think this year she will finally get her cotton candy maker. Cameron makes life diverse and fun, watching her grow is going to be so interesting. I have no prediction on what she will be or where her life will take her. But I do know if she decides to have children, or as an aunt, she will be the one they go to for comfort.

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Her birthday day was actually a bit boring! She had breakfast in bed, which was a tradition SHE asked to start last year. Later on that night she went to the movies with Tyler. Her birthday party was late afternoon so I think it was a pretty lazy day in between. I let the girls open their four presents from us (something read, wear, play with, and something pretty) first thing in the morning. Making them wait is just mean!

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At the Natural History Museum her and Abby both have attended the Native American Culture summer camp. I finally took them to a real Native American restaurant in Provo to have some delicious food. For her 7th birthday Cameron wanted a Native American party! But I wanted to do it the right way, not with clichéd inaccurate things. So it took work on my part to be inventive! I bought nicer posters and dreamcatchers because when we get into a home with love, I want her room to be decorated in them.

INVITES

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DECOR

I bought prints from the artist Maxine Noel, bought a dreamcatcher off of Etsy, and set the table with things from around the house. I dried that burlap in my dryer thinking I would get the wrinkles out, not so, and my clothes were all covered in burlap pieces. I also (don’t judge me) gold dipped and sprinkled feathers to hang. This teepee is from The Land of Nod clearance section that we will use in the playroom now.

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FOOD

I had cactus candy for them to try, pear cactus lemonade, and Navajo tacos. I am sure none of this food was authentic. Of course we had a gorgeous cake to eat as well.

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CRAFTS

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The first craft I did was to make a dream catcher, star style. They are easier to do just as a five point star. I bought embroidery hopes and painted them gold ahead of time. I also tied the string to make the start at the top ahead of time. Also the two strings on the bottom, I had those pre done.

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The second craft I did was I got some empty CD cases, a bottle of glue, and a bunch of dried beans. The girls put down the layer of glue and made a pattern out of the dried beans.

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The third craft I did was to make a paper teepee, not much explanation for that one.

GAMES

We did our basket tossing game, we did a news spot where we demonstrated how to play this. The more detailed post is here. The kids always love this one you guys! Make it for them for Christmas!

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The second game we did was an almond and bead game. You sit in a big circle, flip all the almonds to the UN marked X side, and have them take a turn flipping the nuts in the bowl once. However number they get they take that many of the beads. When everyone has had a turn in the circle you let the people who had 4 or more play. Then just let the circle get smaller and smaller till there is a winner.

 

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PARTY FAVOR

Well they took all their crafts home. When they walked in they had feather strings tied to their hair. Also they had a pretty ribbon tied around their head as well. The only extra party favor they got was a dream catcher necklace.

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I also throughout the party told them what feathers meant to this culture, what dreamcatchers meant, little facts and tidbits here or there. We also talked a lot about storytelling and I read them this book:

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Cameron had such a wonderful time with her 2 cousins, 2 sisters, and 9 little friends. She tried to make them laugh the whole time, even when blowing out her cake and loved the attention.

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things that have been saving me the last little while

October 5th, 2014 in About Me

Clouds

Utah’s summer sky was gorgeous this past summer, thanks to the rain. Rainy summers remind me of Maryland where I lived 6 weeks to 12 years old. Now if we had just had extremely loud thunder storms with the power going off it would have been perfect.

Oh and fireflies. Which I heard have been sighted in Utah so I talked my siblings into going on a trip with me. I investigated the reports from the Natural History Museum, read fisherman websites, emailed the fisherman asking for more exact directions. One of them even made a map for me. I was prepared for the hour and half drive and to keep all of my children up past bedtime. My brother went to check it out the night before and sadly…no fireflies. They haven’t been sighted this summer as well. One year we will see the fireflies!

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My Girls

Homeschooling them has been such fun. I have it set up in a way this time that they enjoy it more. Control, they must have more control. I have four very strong willed souls in this house of mine. You should hear what happens during hair time. Oh my goodness, when can they all do their own hair? I should say last week we had an awful homeschooling day that ended in every one being forced to the basement to re-organize it. However I had them re organize their memory boxes so they ended up having too much fun for a punishment. Oh well!

Sisters

Sisters who send me voxes, texts, pictures, messages throughout the day. You save me.

Watching the girls with each other during good moments. How one falls asleep in her sister’s bed, sprawled all out over their face. Sisters who bond over how rude their mom is. Sisters who pretend to be kitties or puppies all day long. Four sisters who have such strong, stubborn, wonderful personalities that I wonder how in the world I will survive all of them being teenagers at once. Yep, every single one from a Beehive to a Laurel.

The way they exhaust me but fill me up all at the same time. How I can put them to bed but then two hours later want to wake them all up.

Exercise

I’ve been working with a personal trainer a few times every week for 5 or 6 weeks now. Boy is it hard, some days I have to work hard to not spew (did you want to hear that? ha, sorry) during the workout. It feels good to push my body and to see my arms, legs, back tightening and getting stronger. My middle section? Birthing four babies that were in the 9-11 lb range has made that section a project. I don’t ever want it to look like I haven’t had four beautiful babies. But I would like to feel my core stronger, that section is just going to take work. But work that makes me feel proud, sleep better, feel stronger.

Women’s Meeting

This year’s Women’s Meeting/Conference was wonderful. I have a long list of things I learned or am inspired to work on. Here are a few:

**making my home a place where the spirit can be felt

**make the way l lead my life reflect my love for the Savior. Leave a legacy to strengthen those after me

**NEVER STOP YOUR STEPS TO THE TEMPLE

**to remember that “You carry a circle of influence with you wherever you go.”

**leave a strong legacy so I can be a stronger angel to the future women in my line

**bring more sunshine. Not the fakey empty kind. A REAL kind.

President Uchtdorf spoke of Heavenly PARENTS. I have a strong testimony through personal revalations and experiences of our Heavenly Mother and the errand of our angels. Our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and The Holy Ghost who help us and bless us every single moment of the day.

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FALL

Driving with the car window down, weekly Friday trips to the color, birds flying by hurrying to warmer weather. I just adore it all.

I don’t know why it has been a rougher past little while. Boy am I glad for these sweet things that save me on rough days.

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Cousins

Surprise visits from cousins. Another new nephew and the other nephew getting better. These are a few of my favorite things.

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Date nights, being in Young Womens, going to their games to get to know them better, sweet neighbors, and potty training. These are a few of my other favorite things. (Which one was sarcastic?)

Thank you to things these things for saving me lately.

Abby’s Healthy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Drink

September 29th, 2014 in cooking, Health, recipes

Abby, my 8 year old, is guest posting today for a homeschool project. 

 

My mom and I love to go to Starbucks and get their pumpkin drink until we learned that it was not healthy and had no real pumpkin in it. When I made it, it tasted EVEN better!!!!!

Abby’s Healthy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Drink

Ingredients:

-1 tsp pumpkin spice

-1 tsp vanilla extract

-half a can of pumpkin

-one bar of chocolate, chopped

-4 cups of coconut milk (or any other milk)

-3 spoons of honey

-2 cups of ice

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Directions:

Put every thing in blender BLEND!!!!!

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Watch my video to see the whole process:

 

Cameron’s Healthy Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie

September 29th, 2014 in cooking, Health, recipes, Uncategorized

My 7 year old, Cameron, is guest posting today for a homeschool assignment. 

Cameron’s Healthy Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie

I like this smoothie because its chocolate and healthy of course.

Ingredients:

4 cups milk

2 bananas

3 spoons honey

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/3 cup peanut butter

2 cups ice

*****Important, to find out what my secret ingredient is, WATCH MY VIDEO AT THE END!

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Directions:

Put everything in blender and blend.

Don’t forget my secret ingredient.

 

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Curious George Party

September 15th, 2014 in About Me, Parties

Reagan turned two, my baby turned two! I am ok with this, I am burnt out from the baby stage. I had no idea what to buy her or what party to throw her for her birthday. This sweet thing of mine, her hobby is getting into trouble. I was thinking of doing a really loud dance party for her birthday or a puppy party. But just a couple weeks before her birthday she started loving Curious George. Sure she doesn’t sit down to watch it. But she likes it in the background in the house while she climbs onto counters, finds black markers to color new furniture, and tear apart my purse. Oh! And taking a green marker to our brand new iMac.

Man, this love of mine. She causes me to cry more than anything else in my life and I have not had a life since she was born. But boy oh boy her hugs, smiles, energy, personality…it is what we need in this home. She makes it a fun place to be. The older ladies at church like to stop me after sacrament meeting to laugh at Reagan. Today one of the ladies said, “This is good, she is going to be a STRONG one.” Boy it is true.

So the theme of Curious Reagan turned out to fit her perfectly:

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I had the girls wear yellow shirts, black leggings, and yellow fedoras. We had to have some “Man in the Yellow Hat” characters! We also had some monkeys.

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We had an extended family emergency (better now) so I did not do any of the activities. We just took out NERF guns and shot each other. Then did some dancing.

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I followed out four present rule (and had her birthday flower) but I didn’t want to spend money on her presents. She destroys things. So she did not get cute handmade items or fun picks from Etsy. She got Curious George things that it is ok if they are destroyed.

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presents

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Her day was full of playing with cousins, playing at parks, and watching Curious George with donuts. I think it was a pretty perfect day for her.

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This Reagan Jo of mine she takes everything out of me but fills me with what is important. If that makes any sense. She has made me a better woman. I cannot wait to see who she becomes.

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