Ok, Enough Already!

Posted on 16/03/2012. Filed under: Frustration, Life in General |

Over the years I have been one of those ‘lucky’ people who has ‘experienced’ life.  Now, by life, I mean life in terms of the quote “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.”  I have lived in a war zone, had a child in intensive care, had a spouse on workman’s compensation (while pregnant with child #4), dealt with multiple financial setbacks, been through divorce,  and over the course of one year I watched as my mom suffered and died from Lou Gherig’s, lost both of my grandmother’s and had my oldest suffer from a major illness.  Every time things would seem to be getting back on track, something else would come up to knock me back down.

My life really seemed to be going wonderfully back in 2009.  I got married to a wonderful man and got to visit my father for the first time in a long time.  Then life came along.  My husband got deported and I sold everything and quit my job to move with him to Mexico.  We worked hard to build a life there, but it was very difficult for me to be away from my family.  Then we found out last November that there was a chance to get a waiver so he could return to the US.  Although it was hard, I moved back to the states and in with my daughter.  A friend of mine offered me the use of his truck, and I was able to find a job.  In spite of these good things, paying for the lawyer and trying to get on my feet has been a struggle.  Right after the holidays, my hours were cut  and what little reserves I had were gone.  Even getting my income tax refund was meager help at best.  My daughter is moving out of her apartment the end of April, so I had to figure out where to go.  My assistant manager had just renewed his lease and was looking for a roommate, and the price is good.  My hours have finally started picking back up since last week.  So, of course, now that I start to see a light at the end of the tunnel… Hello life! My friend’s truck had a problem with it’s brakes – apparently a connector rusted out and he wants me to pay for it, and the price is more than half of one of my paychecks.  Now, while I understand that I have been using his truck, this was an issue that had nothing to do with my use of the truck.  The past two days I have been borrowing my daughter’s car (which had been my car before the move to Mexico).  I feel very uncomfortable using my friend’s truck again since it is very old and seems to have a lot of issues.  However, this means that I needed to get insurance for my daughter’s car so I can drive it.  (more $ out of my already tight finances.)  She has offered to sell me the car, and wait a few months for me to start paying her so I can save some money to get a much needed repair done.

Meanwhile, the packet of paperwork for my husband has apparently gotten lost in the mail, and the backup packet from the lawyer still hasn’t arrived.  My husband has been asking about the possibility of me moving back to Mexico since this process is taking so long.  My limited finances have left me incredibly stressed out and I haven’t been able to see my family or friends like I thought I would since coming back.  All of this has me alternately wanting to curl up in a ball and cry or just go ahead and move back to Mexico, where I’ll at least have my husband to turn to for comfort.   The only problem is that I know it will be very hard to get re-established when it does come time for us to move back.  Plus, I really like my job and I would hate to leave it after all the time they’ve taken to train me.

Is there anyone else out there who keeps getting kicked in the shins by life just as they’re starting to get back to their feet?

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Holidays Apart and Other Stuff

Posted on 03/12/2011. Filed under: Frustration, Life in General, Relationships |

It’s yet another holiday season where I’m not with everyone I love.  In 2009, just eight short months after our wedding, Alberto was deported.  I spent our first Christmas as a married couple, thousands of miles away from him, packing and selling our things.  Needless to say, it was not a Merry Christmas.  The following year I was in Mexico with him, but our children and grandson were here in the States.  Even though his family was welcoming, it was very hard to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas away from my children. (I had always spent the holidays with them in the past.)  Now, I’m back up in the States, trying to earn enough money to pay for the paperwork and legal fees to bring Alberto home.  So, for the third year in a row I don’t have all my family with me.

I have always been a generally cheerful, up-beat person.  However, now that is truly being put to the test.  The stress I have been under for the last couple of years has been incredible.  It isn’t easy to make the drastic decision to sell everything and move to a different country, especially one so poor as Mexico, and leave your family, friends and everything you know behind.  I made that decision so I could be with my husband.  Mexico City is a very difficult place to live, and that was only compounded by my lack of Spanish.  I am just now able to carry on conversations with people, although often it is a struggle due to my poor conjugation.  So many people complain about the problems of crime, pollution, jobs, cost of living, etc. in the States.  I am convinced that they would not complain as much if they lived a year in Mexico, working a regular job there and earning the average pay.  There is no ‘equal opportunity employment’  there.  Employers can specify age, gender, attractiveness, and a host of other things that would not be permissible here in the States.  Alberto and I struggled with finding adequate work and ultimately opened a cafe to support ourselves.  We had been working sixteen hours a day, six days a week until about three months ago, when we were finally able to cut back to ten hours a day, six days a week.

I have been back in the states for almost a month now and I still feel very displaced.  I did get a job right away, and I really enjoy my work.  There was a possibility to get my old job back, which would have given me a lot more pay, but I couldn’t bring myself to apply for it.  I used to enjoy that job even though it was very stressful, but now the thought of going back to something that intense is overwhelming.  Where I am now is perfect for me.  Even when we are busy I’m not stressed at all.  I’ll take a good work environment with less stress and decent pay over high pay, high stress any day.  What has me feeling displaced is the fact I’m sleeping on my daughter’s couch, living out of my suitcase and borrowing a friend’s vehicle.  As welcoming as my daughter is, I don’t really feel ‘at home’.  Then there’s the problem of not seeing Alberto and missing that companionship.  I have barely even seen my friends since I’ve been back too.  I really want to see them, and sometimes I have the time when they are free, but I feel so tired (from sleeping on the couch and stress) that the idea of getting back into the suv and driving to see them is just too much for me.  I don’t think I’ve ever been this way before.  I can hardly wait till I have paid all the fees and the lawyer and I can visit Alberto and (hopefully) get him back up here.  I just want to have our life back.

I keep getting asked “But since you’re married, doesn’t that mean he automatically gets to stay?”  It doesn’t matter that we are married. Gaining residency to the States (or any other country for that matter) is a complicated process.  It is not an easy process either.  I don’t want to hear people talk about how illegal immigrants are only here to cause crime and/or drain resources.  My husband paid taxes, he donated blood, he volunteered his time to maintain parks and did many other things a good citizen would do.  In other words, he contributed to society.  Most people don’t know how complex the immigration process is, and yes, there are a lot of people out there who are a drain on society – but that goes for U.S. citizens as well.  Most people who come here to this country do so for the same reasons that the first settlers came here – opportunity for a better life and/or freedom from oppressive government.  My family came from Germany and Ireland many generations ago and they had a much easier time immigrating.  Now life is more complex, and it is easy to make mistakes while trying to navigate the immigration process.  We should be a little more understanding and start looking at the individuals rather than have an us vs. them attitude.

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Stateside… for a while

Posted on 17/11/2011. Filed under: Frustration, Life in General, Moving |

So, we recently found out that it might be possible to get a waiver to bring Alberto back to the states.  The only catch is that I have to come back up to the states to work for a little while because we’re not making enough in Mexico to pay for the lawyer and all the waiver and filing fees.  (Not to mention getting any paperwork he has to sign notarized at the Embassy in Mexico – $50 per document.)

As soon as I got back to the states I started filling out applications for every job I could find near my daughter’s house.  I wonder what the people in H.R. think when they see my work and school information from Mexico.  It’s very difficult for me to not be working right now.  I am accustomed to working and I have to pay  a little more than $3000 in all between the lawyer, waiver fees and Embassy fees.  I doubt that I will even be able to get something small for my kids & grandson for Christmas.  I haven’t been able to do anything for them since moving to Mexico.  I gave up a good job when I moved, gave my kids all the family heirlooms, gave my middle daughter my car, and sold everything else.  So, now I’m starting from scratch, though thankfully my oldest daughter is letting me stay with her.

It is heartbreaking to be in this situation.  I want to be near my kids and be able to help them, but I also want to be with my husband.  If I stay in Mexico then I have little chance of visiting my kids and no chance of helping them.  The only reason I was able to come back to the states this time is because a good friend paid for my ticket.  I am scared that if I stay here long enough to earn money to pay for all the legal work that it might hurt the chances of bringing my husband back.  What’s even worse is the fact that if we had gone through the process this year instead of in 2009 he most likely would not have been deported due to new legislation.

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Preparations: Dia de Los Muertos & Going to the States

Posted on 29/10/2011. Filed under: Frustration, Life in General, Moving |

Our day of the dead tableSo, there’s a lot of stuff that has been keeping me busy lately.  After a bit of a meltdown following the last post Alberto and I started looking at me going back to the States for a while.  There are several reasons for us to do this.  One is that living here has become extremely hard for me and I really need a break and I need some real time with my kids.  Another is that we might be able to get a waiver approved so Alberto could come back to the states – but to do that we need to pay the filing fees and lawyer – which cost more money (in US Dollars) than we make here in a year.  So… It’s back to the states, work, see my kids and friends, and visit Alberto when possible.  While it will be nice to be in the States for a while and see family and friends, it really sucks that I have to be separated from my husband.  It will not be easy for me since I sold all of our stuff and I won’t even have a car.  Basically, I’ll be starting from scratch – well, from scratch plus clothing.  I know I’m not the only one who’s had to rebuild their life, but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier.

Since deciding this and getting tickets back to the states there’s been a flurry of activity.  Calls to find out who I can live with (still don’t know for sure who it will be).  Trying to polish up my resume.  Looking at apartment costs (just in case).  Plus trying to get the Cafe squared away so Alberto can run it by himself.  This part has taken a lot of time.  Building new shelving, re-working the menu, generally re-organizing and teaching Alberto how to make a couple of the recipes. (lots of fun since I had to stop my usual “by eye” measurements and really measure the ingredients!)  Then there’s trying to figure out what all to pack.  Add to all of this that one of the biggest holidays down here is coming up… Dia de Los Muertos.

Dia de Los Muertos is Nov 1st and 2nd.  (yes, you could say it should technically be dias de los muertos, since it’s more than one day, but it’s not.)  This is a very big holiday where you remember your dead relatives.  The first day (which falls on All Saints Day) is for ‘los inocentes’ (for dead children) and the second day is for the adults.  Everyone sets up a table with photos of their relatives, candles, candy skulls (which should have names of the relatives on them), jicama, peanuts (in the shell), mandarins, a small pumpkin or gourd, pan de los muertos (bread of the dead) and any favorite food of the deceased people.  We have our table all set up, but we have not purchased the bread yet (we will do that tomorrow or Monday).   I have seen people make the sign of the cross and kiss their hand when seeing the table, which I think is rather interesting since this holiday is a pagan one, dating back before the Catholic religion ever came to Mexico.  Strange to see such a co-mingling of pagan and Christian beliefs. We are going to be open all weekend and will probably be open late on the holidays.  One of the big cemeteries is just a block away from us and people are already cleaning the graves in preparation for the holiday.  It’s a nice thing to see people remember their loved ones.

One thing I am not excited about is the fact that the city is cutting the water during these days.  This makes it a little problematic and frustrating when you need to be able to wash dishes, flush toilets, etc.  Like almost everyone, we do have a tank of water here, so hopefully that will be enough to get us through.  We can be thankful that we use bottled water for our coffee, tea and recipes and we have a good supply of that already.  The city says that they’re doing this because they are replacing some pipes in the main (read: only) water reservoir here.  I think it’s more likely that they chose the holiday to do the work because they usually cut water during the holidays.  (People here have the propensity to wash everything at least twice on the holidays, even if it’s already clean -don’t know why – so the government cuts the water.)  Mexico City already uses  four times the amount of water that it’s aquifer provides, and if people waste water that just makes it worse.  Sadly, the people here don’t understand environmental issues like that, so the government doesn’t explain, they just cut the water. Unfortunately, they rarely advise people ahead of time, so if you don’t plan ahead you’ll have to buy the bottled stuff and wash with it (expensive!!)

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Posted on 06/10/2011. Filed under: Frustration, Life in General |

There are moments here in Mexico that I feel very homesick.  It’s hard being away from family, friends and everything you know.  Even harder still when it’s hard to communicate with the people around you.  There are many times during conversations when I feel completely like an outsider.  Life here is very different from in the US.  People here often work six days a week (12 hours each day)  even though their salary is for five 8 hour days.  A pair of ‘decent’ shoes is about what one person makes here in a day.  If I worked the same amount in the states as I do here, I could earn enough at minimum wage to have a nice apartment, a car, etc.  Here however, there is just enough to pay for utilities and a little more.  If we didn’t have a house here that was already paid for we couldn’t afford to live here.

Today, on two different occasions, I was asked the same question that everyone seems to love asking me.  “Do you like Mexico?”  If I hesitate at all with a response (or say, “sort of”) people try convince me of why Mexico is wonderful.  The sad thing is that these people really believe it.  Yes, there are some parts that are beautiful, but as a whole, Mexico City is not beautiful.  It’s the same as most VERY large cities – dirty, noisy, rude, etc.  When I try explain why I miss my country and how nice it is, they look at me like I’m crazy, except when I mention my kids & family, and only then do they understand.

Right now, I feel rather traitorous because I want to go back to the states and I don’t want to be here anymore.  However, my husband can’t go back right now – which leads to these feelings of being torn.  I don’t want those feelings to turn to resentment.

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Some Days…

Posted on 30/08/2011. Filed under: Frustration, Life in General |

Some days are better than others.  I’ve heard people say that phrase so many times, and now I’m using it.   Generally speaking, I’m doing fine here in Mexico.  Our business is doing well and I’m able to speak a little more with people (albeit not fluidly or fluently, but they get the gist.)  That said, life here is not without frustrations.  As I’m thinking of my list of frustrations, I find that it’s hard to decide what’s the most frustrating.  I guess it’s different any given day.

First & foremost: I miss my family.

Second, there’s all the NOISE.  I know cities are noisy in general, but Mexico City takes it to a whole new level.  There are several reasons for this – the lack of trees, the proximity of the buildings, the fact that EVERYTHING is made of concrete, the honking of horns “just because”, the sirens that are even on non-emergency vehicles, plus the LOUD music that reverberates through your entire home from the fiesta at the other end of your block (usually until around 5 AM, when it’s time to get up for work!).

Third, there’s the unusual amount of superstition and belief in what my dad would call snake oil.  I dare not tell people here that I had a huge black moth (which they think is a butterfly) fly into our cafe not once, but twice in one day.  The reason I can’t tell anyone about seeing this really cool-looking moth is they think that it is an omen of death or illness.  There is the belief that if a child falls that they will “have a scare” and will need to be cured of the scare by rubbing them to “warm them and clear their mind” which is followed by an elaborate ritual of passing an egg (cracked open and placed in a glass) around the child, covering the egg in water, and placing it under the child’s bed for a day.  There are MANY more things like this here.

Fourth, is the fact there is almost no intellectual activity here.  Part of this is because so many people here work from sunup to sundown six days a week and have little time for thinking.  The other part is because there isn’t enough space in the schools.  Schools are done on s shift system,  with half of the students attending in the morning and half in the evening .   Plus, education is only guaranteed through middle school.  If a child wants to go to high school they have to get very good grades plus get lucky enough to win a spot.   Getting into the University is even harder.  All of this leads to a populace that is more concerned with putting food on the table than in-depth thinking.

Fifth, is two-fold.  I miss talking with my friends in the states and having friends in general.  I don’t normally have a hard time making friends, but the language barrier has made it very difficult.  The lack of free time that most people have and the fact that most free time is spent with family makes it even harder.  Plus I’m not drawn to the usual conversations here – which are generally gossip and church.

Sixth, is that I miss a lot of things about the states, the open spaces and parks, my hobbies – yes, I can do some of them here, but it’s difficult to have the money and find the time, being able to cook gourmet food and enjoy wine, and even being able to go out to a bar or restaurant once in a while.

I could probably go on & on about things (including the crazy amount of red tape and corruption here).  But ultimately it does me no good, although it does feel good to ‘vent’ a bit.

I’ll keep trying to look on the bright side of things, but some days I just can’t seem to bring myself to be all bright and cheery.  Today was one of those days.  No matter how much I thought about the good things (running our own business, getting to know my husband’s family, experimenting with recipes) I just couldn’t bring myself to feel anything other than down-to-the-bone tired of living here.    Here’s hoping that tomorrow will be brighter.

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Letting Go

Posted on 27/09/2007. Filed under: Frustration, Relationships |

Life is full of decisions to make, and I think one of the hardest things for some people is to let go. It is especially true if what you are letting go of is something you have held for a long time, or something that is comfortable.

Just two short days ago I let go of a relationship I have tried to make it work over a number of years and – as in the past – it hasn’t worked. The hardest part of it is that it wasn’t a bad relationship in and of itself. It was certainly comfortable, and he is a good man, but my wants and needs weren’t compatible with his. We did share some good times, but it hurt that he wasn’t doing things that mattered to me the most. Still, even though I was hurting because I was shut out of parts of his life – in spite of almost living with him – and hurting because of other things, I didn’t completely want to end things. I have struggled withing myself over my wants and needs and I have tried to weigh those against what was there. Trying to figure out what I could live with – or live without has been hard. I came to the conclusion that things would need to change in order for me to be happy and live with things the way they were.

I went over to his place, determined to talk about what was bothering me, and I did… During the course of the conversation it became apparent that things would not change. He told me that he couldn’t change the way he was and that I had to decide what I wanted to do. I knew then that the things that were tearing me apart would continue to do so, and that I could not live with things that way. It was very apparent that he was more concerned about his own comfort than he was about hurting my feelings. It was saddening to realize that he wanted me to change things that were fundamental to who I am so that he would be more comfortable, and yet he was unwilling to make any changes for me. The ‘take it or leave it’ attitude, the underlying implication that my hurt feelings had nothing to do with him, coupled with him talking about everything that I was doing ‘wrong’ reminded me very much of the attitude that my ex-husband had – and that was more than I could handle. It takes two people to make a relationship work, and when one person is unwilling to change anything and is prone to blame the other person for them not being willing to work on things things will not ever work out.

I have always wanted a relationship like my parents had and I’ve always wanted to have someone special to share my life with. In the past when I have ended a relationship I have been more than willing to open myself to the possibility of dating someone new, to the possibility of a relationship…. But now – I find myself shying away from any offers… I find myself thinking of staying aloof, of never being in a relationship again. I have always been a very passionate person and I have always enjoyed the physical aspects of a relationship. I am not someone who can play around casually with anyone, especially now, but I can’t even think about getting close enough to anyone to allow for a physical relationship. A very large part of me doesn’t want anyone close enough to hurt me ever again, and a part of me feels I am better off alone. Yet, somewhere deep inside me grieves for what I have lost, grieves for the part of me that has always been open to love, no matter how often I have been hurt in the past. I have lost a lot of my loving nature over the past two years. I have also lost my trust, not in someone being faithful, but in the idea that there are people out there who would think of their partner’s feelings as being as important as their own.

Maybe one day I will trust again and have someone I can share things with… but for now I think I may be too damaged by my past to allow anyone to get close and really know me. Perhaps that is for the best though.

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Posted on 17/06/2007. Filed under: Frustration, Relationships |

On Friday I made a rather difficult decision, one that ended things with someone who has been special to me over many years. It was hard, because we have always been good friends and have enjoyed spending time together. The hard part is that he and I wanted or needed different things, and while he was content with the status quo, I was not fully content with it. I am one of those people who likes to touch/hold/cuddle or otherwise show physical affection to someone who I care about romantically, but he is not one of those people who need that much… nothing against either of us, just different styles of showing affection. However, after much soul-searching I realized it is something that I can’t do without.

My parents were always very warm and affectionate to each other, holding hands, giving each other hugs, kisses, etc. on a fairly regular basis. I grew up with the belief that people who love each other are physically affectionate with each other. I also grew up believing that an active sex life was a normal part of a healthy relationship. My whole family is one with a rather high drive towards showing physical affection either through simple touches or in more private ways. So, dating someone who came from a family that wasn’t that physically affectionate was a bit of an adjustment. This is not to say that he didn’t enjoy these things, he just didn’t need them or want them as much as I did. Truth be told while this was a little difficult for me, it didn’t really become a problem until I was stressed about some big changes at work…. and then my need to be cuddled/held/etc. really came out… at the same time, my penchant for venting also was there, and me talking about work every day was bothersome to him, and caused him to pull away a bit, which just made me more stressed – because now not only was I stressing about work, but I was also stressing about us.

I had tried talking to him about the problem on several occasions and finally sent him an email about everything on Friday morning…. He sent me one in reply, which I read after work. Between what I wrote and his reply it was apparent to me that we just didn’t look at relationships in the same way, and we just weren’t meant for a long-term romantic relationship. So then there was the hard part… telling him that. There really is no easy way to tell someone you care about (who also cares about you) that things won’t work and you don’t want to date them anymore. But I did it. He certainly seemed to be surprised at my decision and probably hurt by it… and that makes me sad, but I couldn’t see any other option. I will miss him terribly, but I know he won’t ever believe that.

Now I’m single again, and not looking to date anytime in the near future… actually not sure if I even want to try dating again…. One of my friends has said I will be back to dating before three weeks is up, but I’m not so sure. Anyone taking bets on how long it will be? Personally I think it will be a long time before I date anyone.

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Grasping at Straws

Posted on 13/06/2007. Filed under: Frustration, Relationships, Work |

We hired a replacement at work for our former supervisor, but things aren’t going well with her. For some crazy reason someone thought it would be a good idea to hire someone with no pharmacy or health care experience at all. She is all about crossing t’s and dotting i’s but has neglected to worry herself about the ‘little things’ like learning what the sig codes (the dr’s shorthand) mean… as far as I know she hasn’t picked up a book to help her learn about medications, directions or anything else. On top of all that she is sending out emails to everyone and their cousin that she knows in the company bitching about us and trying to make us look bad. She has managed to piss off every pharmacist and all the techs as well… And she is acting as if it’s our fault. We’ve never had any problem with new people and making them feel included before.

She is friends with the store HR manager and the overall store manager, and they seem to think that she’s telling the truth about us and we must all be wrong. She even had the nerve to say that I wasn’t helping her learn (I have taught almost ALL the technicians there, even taken time during my studies to help someone who was struggling with something we needed in order to pass the tech certification). I have always prided myself with being a professional and behaving in a professional manner, and I won’t compromise on that. Professionals don’t hinder other people from learning their job. On several occasions now she has ignored my input and advice on work flow and other things that she needs to know to be effective. Worse than that, she doesn’t seem compassionate at all, and you have to have at least a little compassion to be in health care. So far she only seems to be interested in making herself look good by making others look bad (or trying to).

*STILL* having issues with my personal life. I keep feeling that I can’t be what he really wants, and that I want more than he can really give. I have a real need to be touched cuddled, etc… and he’s not that kind of person. When I am stressed out it’s worse, because I need it more…. and because of my past it’s hard for me to admit needing anything, much less asking for anything, and when I try touch or cuddle and he doesn’t respond it hurts and makes me want to hide my needs even more. This is very confusing to me because he wants me to come over almost every night. Sometimes it would be easier to stay home rather than to go over and not be touched. I have tried to talk to him about some of this, but I just don’t think he understands. Sad that I am more comfortable writing about this here where anyone can read it than I am with talking to him about it. I think if things don’t work out then I will stop dating all together… no more of this. Sometimes I think I’m too much of an emotional mess for any relationship to work.

Most fun of all is I am on antibiotics right now, and the medication of choice has the WONDERFUL side effect of depression and sleep problems *WHEEE*

Thank goodness I know that “this too will pass”

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Drat!! & other expressions of annoyance

Posted on 25/10/2006. Filed under: Frustration |

My car’s interior fan has not been working for some time now, and I finally got around to working on it today.  I thought that I might just need to replace the fuse, and when I looked the fuse was blown, so I picked up a new one.  When I got home I went looking for my tools only to find that, during the course of moves and kids loaning them to their friends, I had none of the tools I needed *GROWLS*  SO… off to the store to buy the necessary tools.  Out in the parking lot I went through the process of replacing the fuse only to find that it wasn’t the only problem *sigh*.  Now I have to figure out what exactly IS the problem with the fan… Drat, DRAT, DRAT!!

In other news… still studying like mad…  Getting things together for my daughter’s boot camp graduation…  and more… though what more I’m just not up to posting on my blog.

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