No, I’m not Dead!

She's baack

After an unintended six-month sabbatical, my good friend Skipah gave the me a shout out on his latest post, which, in turn, inspired me to get back at it. There have been far too many adventures here in the Maple Treehouse to catch up all of my loyal fans, so I will just hit the highlights today.

The biggest happening over the past few months, of course, was Christmas. Rugrat was spoiled to death, as usual. Mommy Santa spent lots of money on Lego Dimensions, both the game and the add-on packs. Needless to say, after about a week of playing nearly every hour he was allowed on the PS3, he lost interest and hasn’t played in at least two weeks. “But I’ve beaten every level now, Mommy.” Those of you with youngsters who are familiar with Lego video games know that just because you complete the “Story Mode” of each level does not mean you have finished the whole game. Convince my 9-year-old of that, and I will give you $1.00. In the meantime, I will be taking the highest bidder for about $200 worth of Lego Dimensions delight.

Grandma and Grandpa Mommy’s Santa were very generous as well. The kiddo got everything on his wish list and then some. My siblings and I also were very generously bestowed some gifts and cash. Cash is always good. I like cash. This year I was able to pay off some bills, but didn’t get much “fun” stuff out of it. I will take it, though. I HATE debt. PSA to college kids: DON’T GET A CREDIT CARD!!!!

credit cards

In other news from the Treehouse, I’ve become quite the selfie queen. I’m usually pretty self-conscious about selfies, but I’m taking and sharing more these days in order to promote my new gig. Remember that make up demonstration for Younique I hosted last summer with my posse girlfriend, Patty? Well, you guessed it. I got so addicted to the stuff, that I became a presenter myself. The great thing is that I don’t have to keep an inventory, and most sales and parties happen through social media. This is quite unlike a previous cosmetic company I represented, where to be successful, you had to maintain an inventory and do in-home parties a couple times a month. The product was good, but I like this Younique stuff much better.

2015-09-09 13.49.10

I do not intend to push the product or opportunity on this blog. That’s not why I write. However, I do get excited over makeup, and it has become a pretty important part of my life, so you will see posts that include it. I will try to include some general beauty tips from time-to-time for my female readers.

While Younique is fun and provides some supplemental income for me, I still sell real estate as my main gig. I love the diverse group of clients I meet, and most become friends that I continue to see regularly. I actually had a dear client of mine who lost his wife to illness shortly after they bought their house take the Rugrat and me to lunch a few months ago. I simply adore this man. I used to work with his son, and greatly appreciate the referral, not because of the income I received from it as much as the wonderful opportunity to know his parents.

Crumps

One of the loveliest couples I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with!

Working in sales is not easy. It is quite difficult to be self-motivated and not have the accountability of someone requiring you work at set hours. However, the flexibility of being able to schedule work around my life instead of life around my work is fabulous, and as I said above, I LOVE the people I get to meet. I’m currently working with some very cool people who are looking for a commercial property to convert into a recording studio. I will have more on that in a future blog, but they are lots of fun to work with and have also become friends I hope to keep in touch with after the sale.

Life has been good to me, and I feel very blessed to live this one that God has given me. I have been chugging along, trying to be the best mommy, friend, daughter, sister, aunt and person I can be. It isn’t always easy, and Lord knows I’ve made a lot of mistakes and will make many more in the years to come, but I praise God every day for the chance to be my best.

Part of being my best is doing what I hate the most…housework. And the Treehouse is screaming in agony over chores needing to be done, so I’m out of here for now!

 

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Hello Ohio, My Old Friend

Halfway There!

Halfway There!

I attended college in Ohio and always said that if I ever decided to move away from Indiana, Ohio would be my state. All but a college roommate and most of college friends are from Ohio. It really isn’t so different than Indiana. Maybe that’s part of why I’ve always loved it. Nevertheless, Rugrat and I spent a fantastic weekend in the Buckeye state and plan to return sooner rather than later.

We got started later than planned on Saturday, but isn’t that the way with any road trip? We finally arrived at our cousin’s house near Springfield around 2:30. We settled in, started some laundry since my dryer at home is kaput, and then headed to my aunt and uncle’s to drop off my car to get my A/C Freon recharged.

Youngs dairy

After dropping off my car the clan whisked us off to Young’s Jersey Dairy in Yellow Springs. Young’s raises jersey cows (hard to figure that out, huh?) and has a ton of family-friendly activities. First stop there, of course, was for some homemade ice cream. Let me tell you, it was delicious! They also specialize in fried cheese curds in a variety of flavors. Culver’s has nothing on Young’s; trust me on that one.

Having promised the kiddo a souvenir from our trip, we visited the gift shop. He immediately eye-balled some candy, but I told him we needed something specific to Ohio and preferably Young’s. He looked across the store and saw a shelf with some local items on it and pointed, saying, “Look, Mommy! Ohio Bucks stuff!” Imagine my shock and dismay! I responded, “Absolutely NOT!” When he asked me why, I simply reminded him that we are Hoosiers, and Ohio State is the enemy. That shut him up! Next he pointed to a Young’s shot glass, which for obvious reasons, I also vetoed. Right next to those, however, I saw some large mugs with the Young’s logo. As they were only $8.50, which I thought relatively reasonable for a gift shop, I suggested that be his ice cream mug that he always eats ice cream from, and he agreed.

mug

As I went to pay for the mug, I saw this:

Sock Dating Pool Pick-Up Line

Sock Dating Pool Pick-Up Line

If you have ever read my friend Skipah’s blog, you will know why I immediately asked the clerk how much it was and ended up purchasing it for him as an early birthday present/souvenir. Skipah often updates his readers about his “Sock Dating Pool” so I had no choice. The kiddo and I actually had dinner with Skipah and his little sailor-girl this evening because she turns eight tomorrow, and not only did we have a birthday present to present to her, but we had our new souvenir for the Skipah. The look on his face was absolutely priceless. Sailor-girl looked at the sweater and pants and seemed disappointed until I pointed out the label. “JUUSSSSTICE!!!!” (I have never stepped foot in a Justice store, but someone I know was selling some of her daughter’s clothes, so I figured this outfit would be a hit, and it only set me back 20 bucks.)

Back to our Saturday at Young’s, after devouring their amazing ice cream, we ventured over to the barn to visit the goats and cows. The cousins all feed the goats handfuls of feed, but Rugrat didn’t want anything to do with it, nor would he go into the barn at first. He said it was too stinky. Well, duh! Animals live, eat, sleep, pee and poop in there? What else would it smell like? Daisies? He decided to follow me inside after all and did find it pretty cool to see the apparatus that milks the cows and sends the fresh, raw mild through the pipes into the holding tank.

Corn maze

Our timing could not have been more perfect because Saturday was the first day they opened their fall corn maze. We rode the wagon over to that, paying $5.50 each to roam around through tall stalks of corn with bugs swarming in the 90 degree heat and humidity and get lost. At one point we decided to separate and search for an exit in the old boys vs girls method. The boys won. I still think that either a little US Army style trail hacking happening to make their own exit, or they lied when we first separated and hear them call out, “Dead end!”

In any event, we did each get rewarded with a coupon of our choice. So the kids ended up with two free trips apiece down the mega slide. Other activities were putt-putt, a batting cage, a bounce house and a few other things. We chose to skip those. We were only there two hours, but a family could easily make a full day out of a visit to Young’s Jersey Dairy.

Slide 1

After a quick stop at Kroger and picking up my car, we made it back to home base for a relaxing evening of dinner, laundry and a grown-up movie while the kids played down the hall. If you haven’t seen The Interview, it’s very entertaining. It is so ridiculously funny and stupid, it is amazing to me that threats from North Korea shut this movie down and kept it out of theaters.

Well, I’m going to have to share about Sunday in Ohio tomorrow. It’s starting to get dark, and I need to get the Rugrat settled down for the night before the sleep police show up!

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It’s Getting Hot in Here

What a week this has been! Everything decided to break down in the past week. The A/C in both my house and car haven’t been working well. My washer shut down a week ago, and now my dryer doesn’t work either. Thankfully, between my landlord, friends and family, the whole ordeal will only cost me about $120.

My A/C in the car hasn’t worked in the car in extreme heat most of the summer. It does ok to keep the car cool if the interior isn’t already like a greenhouse, but if it’s already over 80 degrees or so, it just won’t cool. I know the problem. The same thing happens every year. I have a pinhole leak in the hose. Unfortunately, to repair or replace, the whole engine would have to be pulled out. My car is 11 years old, and since I plan to have a new one within the next year or so, it’s much cheaper to but the Freon at Wally World to fill it back up when needed.

Freon

I’ve been driving around with Freon in my trunk but have not found anyone who can put it in for me. Alas, Uncle Jim to the rescue. Rugrat and I are off to visit our cousins in Ohio tomorrow, and he thinks he has the tools necessary to fix it! Yay! We are leaving early tomorrow, so should be fine for the drive up, and on the way home, if all goes well, I will have a fully charged A/C for nothing more than the cost of a couple of cans of Freon, roughly $20.

If a hot car isn’t enough, my house’s A/C has been acting up for the past month or so, too. No A/C in the Ohio Valley in July and August no es bueno. The first time it was just the unit froze up because it had been so hot it was constantly running. I shut it off 4 hours, and my landlord changed the filters, and I was good for a week or two. Then the damn thing stopped blowing cold air again, so I shut it off for a few hours. When I turned it back on it barely was blowing cool air, and I figured it just needed more time to defrost, so I kept it off for 12 hours overnight. I turned in on the next day around noon, and it barely got the house cooled down to normal before it stopped cooling. AGAIN. I finally broke down and texted my landlord again yesterday morning, and he checked it out and confirmed that we needed to get a professional. By then end of the day, it was up and running again, and I slept a solid eight last night (cue the chorus of angels: “Hallelujah”!

It miraculously rose from the grave!

It miraculously rose from the grave!

Another long awaited repair happen yesterday as well. My washer had shut down right before the spin cycle last week, and my favorite brother-in-law came by yesterday and miraculously fixed it within five minutes. I was never so ecstatic to be able to do laundry. I hate laundry. Who doesn’t?

It took four cycles of wash to get rid of the mildew smell from the load that was in the standing water for a week. Finally this afternoon I was able to put them in the dryer. Turned the dial, pulled out the nob and voila! Nothing. Actually, it wasn’t nothing. The nob came off. “No sweat,” I thought. I just grabbed a pair of pliers from the toolbox. (Yes, I’m a single woman. Yes, I have tools. Yes, I know how to use them.)

I sauntered back over to the dryer, clamped down on the pliers and pulled. Hard. Nothing. I tried again. Harder. The back panel started moving forward as I pulled. Thinking that was probably not a good thing, I may or may not have said a couple of choice words that I shouldn’t repeat in my blog. Especially since I’m pretty sure my pastor, his wife and several other members of my church family at least sometimes read this blog.

Friends Carrie and Drew to the rescue! The recently moved back to the area and the sellers of their new house left their washer and dryer there. Since that set is nicer than what they had, they are selling me their old set for only $100. They are even delivering them to me and helping set them up and get them running for me.

Me and Leigh

As I said, friends and family are awesome. Did I mention that I also got to see my good friend “L” last night? We all know life gets in the way of spending time with friends, and we hadn’t had any one on one time in over a month. She is part of my Wolfpack I met up with a couple of weeks ago, but last night we just sat on her deck, star-gazing, sharing a 6-pack and discussing the single life. It was very fun, and if it weren’t a “school night” for us, we would have stayed up for hours longer just talking. I love those moments with my loved ones.

Deliciousness!

Deliciousness!

Oops….just saw headlights turn in the driveway. The Sleep Police must have figured out that Rugrat is with me tonight. I didn’t tip them off because after a playdate after school, we went to dinner at our favorite Chinese buffet with all-you-can-eat crab legs and ran a couple of errands. Knowing I needed to blog and he had a brand new game to play, I was hoping to let him stay up just a little later than normal, but still early enough to hit the road for Ohio bright and early. Guess that time has come, so look for a great blog in a couple of days about our weekend adventures! Shhhh! There is a pounding at the door!

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Meet n Greet Time!!

Here’s a great opportunity to connect with fellow bloggers!

Dream Big, Dream Often

Per our usual agreement, here are the rules:

  1. Leave a link to your page or post in the comments of this post and/or in the comments of these MnG links: Meet n Greet from 7/12  and Meet n Greet from 7/31
  2. That means there are 3, three, opportunities to connect.  This new comment thread and the threads from 7/12 and 7/31.  If you have not left a link in all 3 please be sure to do so as this means more exposure for your page!!!
  3. Reblog this post.  It helps you, it helps me, it helps everyone!  So don’t be selfish, hit the reblog button.
  4. Edit your reblog post and add tags (i.e. reblogging, reblog, community, meet n greet, link party, etc.), it helps, trust me on this one.
  5. Share this post on social media.  Many of my non-blogger friends love that I put the Meet n Greet on Facebook and Twitter…

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Coming Out of a Funk and Going Home

Those of you regular readers know that I have been in a funk the past few days, so I’ve been off the grid. Good news! I’m feeling great, was busy yesterday, crazy busy today and a new small group started at church tonight that I already love.

Happy Birthday to my handsome Daddy!

Happy Birthday to my handsome Daddy!

Yesterday was my Daddy’s 75th birthday. Doesn’t he look amazing? This photo is actually from three years ago when I got married. Although the marriage didn’t work out, it is still by far the best photo I have of the two of us. He looks just the same, and I’m 50 pounds lighter, so time has been good for us these past few years. I haven’t seen him yet for our regular birthday lunch, but I did call and sing Happy Birthday to him.

Haha! Gotcha!

Haha! Gotcha!

I also had lunch with Rugrat. The usual crew joined us, and as always, he avoided the camera as best he could, but I did manage to get one decent shot. He thought he ducked behind mine, but thankfully his timing was off.

This morning I hit the ground running. I went to Kohl’s to pick up some school clothes. I only spent $25. I got 33 pieces of clothing for Rugrat and didn’t even have a coupon. OK, OK, they weren’t all Kohl’s clothes; I’m not sure any of them were. I just met a lady there who had posted them on a yard sale group on Facebook, but WOW! What a deal! If you don’t use these groups on Facebook to look for bargains, you are missing out!

I also learned that you never know where you might meet a potential client. Well, I already knew that, but actually experienced it today. I sent a message to the woman I bought the clothes from today because I looked back at the post to see how many items were in that bag. After rereading the original post I thought I had underpaid her so I messaged her, but she said we were good because she had reduced the price in the comments. She continued to tell me she’d been trying to sell them for a few weeks and just reduced the price because she and her husband want to buy a house and are trying to purge. We now have an ongoing conversation about what they are looking for. So, this gal is a happy camper.

If you are local, check it out. Plate lunches, catering, whatever your BBQ need!

If you are local, check it out. Plate lunches, catering, whatever your BBQ need!

I left Kohl’s to have lunch with a Realtor friend of mine who also has a catering/food truck business and serves AMAZING BBQ plate lunches in the area. He’s going through a divorce after 25 years of marriage, so since I’ve done it twice already, I’ve been trying to raise his spirits and share some things to expect. Dating today is much different than dating 25 years ago, what with social media, online dating and such.

Sorry about this Steph, but had to share your little man driving my broccoli trees back to you that he wouldn't share with me. Good thing I don't like broccoli!

Sorry about this Steph, but had to share your little man driving my broccoli trees back to you that he wouldn’t share with me. Good thing I don’t like broccoli!

Although I had an all-around fabulous day, the best part was tonight when the prodigal daughter returned home to her church family. I have been a member of my church for nearly 10 years. I’ve developed a lot of relationships over that time and truly felt like I’d come home tonight. We have Wednesday night dinner and various classes and Bible studies to choose from every session. Two good friends of mine are leading a study about raising kids as Christians. With only one of six sessions attended, I can already tell I’m going to absolutely love this class and learn a lot to help with helping Rugrat’s faith and growth. I hope that his father will reinforce that at his house as well, and I intend to purchase the book that the study was based on and share it with him after I finish it. He’s not a reader, so I will highlight some important points and hope he reads at least those.

Bible study

We joined this church as a family shortly after Rugrat was born because we both agreed that we wanted him to learn about God and hear stories about Jesus and hopefully develop a personal relationship himself. After the divorce, I “kept” the church because one of the main reasons we started attending is that all of my local family attends as well. I haven’t been consistent in attendance. I probably haven’t been to a Sunday service in two-three months, but I miss it. We have plans to be out of town this weekend, but you can bet that the following Sunday, I will be there.

Well, Rugrat called and said goodnight before he went to bed, and I haven’t seen any sign of the Sleep Police, so I guess he had no issues at bedtime. I’m beat and need to put myself to sleep!

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August 10, 2005

Do you ever just get in a funk and have no idea why? The past week or two I’ve been there. Sometimes I can just chalk it up to PMS, but when “MS” comes and goes, and it’s still there, I start to wonder, “What’s up with me?”

Yesterday I had a revelation. Today is August 10, which was the single worst day of my life. Worse than when my mom died in 1987, when I got divorced last year and when Rugrat’s dad and I got divorced in 2009. In fact, after August 10, 2005, I became a different person. Ten years ago tomorrow marks the anniversary of when I lost my 3rd pregnancy. The 1st and 2nd losses were hard, but nothing could ever prepare me for the emotions I would deal with when I lost Rachel mid-term.

Rachel grave

I went to my OB for THE ultrasound. You know the one. The one that tells you what color to paint the nursery. I was absolutely ecstatic to learn I was having a girl. My OB said that she couldn’t get accurate measurements of the organs and wanted me to see a high-risk specialist with better ultrasound equipment and scheduled me to go in the next day.

Reflecting back on that day, I certainly should have picked up on the fact that something was wrong, but I was still too high on the excitement of finding out I had a mini-me growing inside of me. We were so excited that I invited my parents to come with us to see their granddaughter themselves.

The nurse brought us back for the ultrasound and said the doctor had been called away, but she could go ahead and take the measurements and confirm that it was a girl. As soon as the image of my baby showed up on the monitor, I had to ask if the baby truly was a girl. She confirmed that, but there was something about the look on her face. Of course, I asked immediately what was wrong.

Technically, as a nurse she couldn’t give me a diagnosis and had to schedule for us to come back the next day to see the doctor. However, she saw the fear in my eyes and told us what she saw and what it “could” mean. Unfortunately, she was right. Our baby had anencephaly. She had no brain core. I didn’t believe it. After all, she had a strong heartbeat and was taking normal breaths that we saw for ourselves during the ultrasounds. We learned that she actually did have a brain stem, which is what told her heart to beat and lungs to breathe.

That night, we got on the internet and started to research. Our baby had zero chance of survival. If I were able to carry her to term, she MIGHT take a few breaths before dying. Additionally, we learned that she had an issue with her heart and would require multiple surgeries. Because of my other health issues and lack of viability for our daughter, the doctor told us we needed to terminate the pregnancy.

I have always hated abortion. I feel that for the physical health of the mother or in the rare case of rape or incest it should be allowed, but never for birth control. I was faced with the most difficult decision of my life. I never dreamed that I would have to end a pregnancy for my own health.

Finally, after much discussion and lots of prayer, we decided to let the specialist induce labor. I was in the hospital for almost a week. He wanted to give my body every opportunity to deliver her without having to do a D&C. He told us we would be better able to grieve and move on if able to hold her and say goodbye.

Unfortunately, after three days of labor and my running a dangerously high fever, he told me we no longer had that option. Just before midnight on August 10, 2005, Rachel was born. She never took a breath, and we never got to hold her. We did, however, get her footprints. I haven’t looked at them in a very long time. They are in a box with a few other mementos that I will keep forever.

After burying her next to my mom, I could not return to work for a few weeks. I tried to go back once, but could not stand everyone looking at me feeling sorry. I had a break down and ran to the restroom sobbing. When I came out, my supervisor and his boss told me to go home and take as much time as I needed before coming back.

I decided the best way to get over my loss was to get right back on the horse. I got pregnant again the next chance I could and was near the end of my first trimester with Rugrat before Rachel’s due date. He knows about his big sister. He’s visited her grave. He’s sad, too, that he’s never met her, but I remind him as I constantly remind myself, that if she had been healthy and I’d carried her to term, I would never have conceived him, and he wouldn’t be here today.

Rugrat visiting his big sister and Granny

Rugrat visiting his big sister and Granny

I probably should have waited longer before trying to conceive after Rachel died. I realize now that I sank into a deep depression and the post-partum I had after Rugrat’s birth was magnified because I never fully grieved Rachel. I became very hard to live with and made some poor decisions that I know contributed to the problems that led to Rachel and Rugrat’s dad and I to get a divorce. You know what they say about hindsight.

Rugrat is my little miracle. Maybe I spoil him too much. Maybe I let him get away with more than I should. But he is my miracle, and I can’t imagine life without him. So Mom, quit spoiling Rachel so much up there! I’m spoiling your grandson enough for both of them!

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My Posse and My Wolfpack

Very few 40-something women are able to say that they still keep in touch with their best friends from high school. I’m not talking about Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets. I’m talking about real, live, face-to-face interaction on a regular basis. Well, I hit the best friend lottery because I have a posse I’ve run with for 30+ years.

The

The “Posse on Broadway”…or at the lockers

Back in our early days, we listened to a lot of hip-hop and rap. Ironically, that is one of my least favorite music genres now. One of our favorite albums to listen to was Sir Mix-a-Lot’s Swass, and on that album was the song, “Posse on Broadway.” We listened to it so much that we decided we were a posse ourselves and then forever became THE Posse.

As usually happens, my fellow Posse members and I have all gotten married and have families of our own that take up most of our time, as they should. We’ve lived through weddings, births, funerals, affairs and divorces. The one thing in common at every one of those major life events is that no matter where we’ve been individually in life, we’ve always come back together in those times of both happiness and sorrow. PJ was physically beside me when my mom died when we were 16 and went with me to the hospital where I was told she had passed. She, Mimi and Liesel were there for me every single day for months afterwards to make sure I was ok.

We were all there and involved in the first Posse wedding and stayed up all night waiting for the birth of the first Posse baby, who is now grown up, attending college and has a boyfriend of her own. She is the age her momma was when she got married, and while I’m thrilled she is happy and in love, I pray she takes her time and enjoys her youth before making the same decision.

Posse baby #1 and her new boyfriend

Posse baby #1 and her new boyfriend

This past Saturday, I had the pure joy of being able to spend the better part of the day and night with my Posse sisters. PJ has lived in various parts of the country for many years with her army husband and two gorgeous daughters. Our precious bond has never been broken, and every year when she is home to visit family we have a posse reunion. Every Christmas we also gather, even if PJ cannot make it home.

This visit home was for her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Wow! That is so rare these days, and I was thrilled to be able to share in the celebration. After we all pitched in to help clean up after the party, we reconvened at Mimi’s house. Even though our collective kids range in age from 9-19, they always have a blast when we get together as well. PJ’s husband has commented in the past that every time we see each other, no matter how much time has passed since our last visit, we pick right back up where we left off, like we’d never been apart.

Posse 8.1.15

I know that if I ever needed ANYTHING in life, my Posse sisters will be there for me. Liesel even took me in last fall when my ex and I split until I could get moved in to my new place. Mimi took me in briefly, as well, when my kiddo’s dad and I split up several years ago. I cannot imagine my life without these women in it.

I’m doubly blessed to have found another group of women as an adult who are also like sisters to me. They are my Wolfpack. Ironically enough, I also graduated from high school with either these women or their husbands. The difference from the Posse is that we did not become close until our 20-year reunion.

My Wolfpack

My Wolfpack

I was able to spend time with my Wolfpack this weekend as well as my Posse. A band was performing in the community outdoors, and we gathered for some fabulous local music and camaraderie. We then ventured a few blocks away to a local restaurant to enjoy dinner and drinks before parting ways. We had a fabulous time as well, and since Rugrat was at a sleepover, I headed with a couple of others to the local pub for Friday night karaoke. Knowing I had a full day with my Posse the next day, I didn’t stay late, but had a blast that evening with my Wolfpack gals.

These women, along with a few others in the extended Wolfpack family are also ones that I can ask anything of and confide in when needed. Three of us have kids ages 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 15. Others have grown kids, and some have grandkids. We all have different needs at different times, but we have truly become that “village” for one another, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Any one of us feels comfortable disciplining another’s child when necessary and our kids listen to the other mothers more than their own sometimes.

It was an utterly amazing weekend catching up with old and not so old friends, and I wish I could do it much more often. Unfortunately, jobs, families and life in general tends to keep our gatherings few and far between, but until next time ladies, “Cheers to the Freakin’ Weekend”!

cheers

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