Being a Mom is Hard

Being a mom is hard.

I know this because, from time to time, my friends ask me to care for their children while they’re away, and I know, from experience, that I don’t have what it takes.

Or, at least, I need a lot of practice.

When I say “a lot” I mean a. Lot.

This time it was my favorite set of twins — sweet, (almost) 18-month old baby girls who are just starting to toddle and are learning how to make letter sounds. While Baby Grace was enamored with the zipper on my sweater and saying “zzzzzzzz” after I told her that it was a zipper, sister Sophie was perfecting her walking technique. It seems to me that Gracie is intent on the fine art of words while Sophie is more inclined to learn useful skills — like walking. And throwing her food on the floor. And playing in the toilet. Ok, so Grace does join in on the mess-making. They both love reading stories and “helping” fold laundry, and they both get insanely jealous if someone else dares to sit on my lap. This afternoon, they both ganged up on their cousin and tried to push him off so there would be a spot for them.

For a few hours, I also had the cousin, the older brother, Sam, and then the other cousin showed up too. Like a good mom, I told the boys they had to go outside and run around for at least 15 minutes before playing inside. When they’d been out for 12 minutes, one of them came in and asked if it had been 15 minutes yet. I said no and they actually stayed outside for another 15 minutes. Score! When they came in again to play legos, I told them the rules are that the legos stay on the table so the babies wouldn’t have the opportunity to choke on them, and that if anyone shouted, they had to go outside for 15 minutes. I told them that if they wanted the privilege of yelling in the house, they had to pay for the privilege, and the cost is 15 minutes outside. (I’ve also told them that if they want the privilege of annoying another kid they’re playing with, they have to pay a quarter. Every privilege has a cost, and they need to think through it and decide if the benefit is worth the cost. For some reason, the privilege/cost idea seems to work with them.)

As I was cooking supper, the cousins left, and the uncle offered to take Sam for the night so I could focus on caring for the babies. I don’t have words for how awesome that was! Sam’s a flamboyant and rambunctious kid (whom I love to pieces), and I’m not sure how I would have fared with him the entire weekend. I’m sure it would have been fine, but two babies are definitely a handful all on their own.

The babies are so. dang. cute. They sat in their highchairs and gobbled down their dinner all the while saying, “mmmmmmm!” and doing the sign (baby sign language) for milk whenever they wanted a drink. They both asked for third helpings (growing girls!) and I was able to get one of them to do the sign for “please.” I’ve been working on the sign for “more” too, but they haven’t figured that one out yet.

(Side Note: We had gone to the park earlier in the day, and as I was pushing them in the swings, I would tap the babies’ knees or toes and I’d squeal “Knees!” or “Toes!” After the third time, Gracie reached for her knees and said, “nnnn-ee!” That’s my brilliant baby!)

Babies are such messy creatures. After their third helping of hamburger helper (I’m just that awesome at cooking hamburger helper….), they were covered from head to toe in cheese sauce, so they hopped in the tub and had a grand old time splashing around. As soon as I got them smelling like the sweet babies that they are, a friend asked if I wanted to go to the mall with her. Um…. yeah!

So I found the car seats and loaded them (and the babies) into my car and we were off. The babies loved it — except for the part about having someone they didn’t know trying to hold them once we got to the mall. Sophie was like, “I’ll walk, thank you very much.” But she didn’t want to hold anybody’s hand. Her thought process was, “If anybody is going to touch me, it’s going to be my Mari, and if my Mari touches me but doesn’t hold me, I’m not going to be a happy girl.” So Gracie got acquainted with my friend and I snuggled Sophie until we found a stroller at Herberger’s. They had so much fun grabbing at the clothes on the racks and feeling all the different textures. My friend’s little girl (age 5) wanted some play time with the babies, so we sat on a bench and the babies cuddled up to her and after a few minutes, they both started smacking her in the face. She laughed, which made them do it again — and again…. and again. It was quite entertaining to watch.

Then it was time to go. My friend put one baby in the car and her little girl wanted to put the other one in, and she did such a good job! She even tucked a blanket around both the babies so they’d be warm. I’m so proud of her! She’s going to be an excellent big sister some day! She was so conscious of the babies’ needs the whole time we were together. She told me she thought maybe they needed their diapers changed — and at that point, I realized that I hadn’t brought diapers. Whaaaahkkk! I’d be a terrible mother! And after the babies were buckled up and tucked in and the doors closed, Sophie started screaming her head off, and I realized I hadn’t brought pacifiers either. Whhhaaaaakkkk! Oh my goodness. Bad mom award!

The good news is that the babies had been freshly changed within 5 minutes of leaving home and they aren’t fussy babies. So as soon as I got in the car and started telling Sophie I was a silly, thoughtless grownup forgetting her pacifier like that, she was done crying. I fake-laughed, and both babies giggled. I fake-sneezed. Sophie fake-coughed in response. And Gracie laughed. They had lovely baby-gibberish conversations together in the back seat while I got a smoothie from DQ — and as soon as we got home, Grace saw I had a drink and she started in on the “milk” sign. She crawled up in my lap, and continued to do the “milk” sign. And then Sophie realized I had a drink and she joined her sister, crawling on top of me and doing the “milk” sign. I had just a little left, so I gave them the rest, and they were so happy. They laughed and said “mmmmmm!” and the second the first baby took a break to breathe, the other one went after the straw. It was really quite comical.

Then it was time for a little bite to eat (a few crackers), a fresh diaper for each and a nice, warm bottle and a cozy blanket to snuggle with — and just like that, they were out.

I swept the floor (for the third time since noon), cleaned the table and folded the laundry (cuz I’m such a good babysitter) and now, I hope I sleep. I’d feel better about it if they were in the same room with me.




I think I just turned into one of those co-sleeper people.

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Posted by on October 24, 2014 in Uncategorized


Nursing School

I’m a nurse.

Until about two weeks ago, I was a nursing student.

Being a nursing student is a lot of work. It’s a lot of stress. It’s a lot of studying, a lot of sleepless nights and a lot of jumping through hoops. It involves giving up a lot of things — like spending time with your friends and family, holidays, vacations, favorite television shows and writing new blog posts. I had to give up a job that I adored because I couldn’t make the 300 hours of clinical that I had to complete in 12 weeks work with my work schedule. I missed out on the first several months of my favorite set of twins’ lives because I was studying. I missed out on lots of events in my other favorite kids’ lives. My friends called dibs on my free time and my house didn’t get cleaned. My laundry didn’t get done. I didn’t have time to buy groceries and I didn’t have time to cook. I ate a lot of fast food and my exercise was running the hallways during clinical. Because I’m a nurse. Nurses don’t walk. They run.

Nursing school isn’t for everyone.

Sometimes, I was sure nursing school wasn’t for me.

But I managed to graduate.

I managed to pass the NCLEX exam on my first attempt.

And even though I’ve graduated and I’ve passed the licensure exam and received my license in the mail two weeks ago, sometimes…. sometimes, I’m still not so sure nursing is for me.

Tomorrow I will meet with my employer to go through new-hire paperwork.

I can’t believe, after wanting it for so long, and working so hard for it, after writing a gajillion discussion posts and taking a few million online tests and spending several hundred hours at two different hospitals, a clinic and a nursing home, it’s finally here.

Tomorrow, I will be officially employed as a nurse.

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Posted by on August 20, 2014 in Current Events


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The Water Slide

I realize I’m a big baby.


Large bodies of water terrify me.

Part of it has to do with my (extensive) past experience with ear, sinus and throat infections, the idea of bacteria growing in bodies of water and the fact that ear, nose and throat infections can lead to bacterial meningitis which can kill people.

But it probably has more to do with the fact that until I took adult swim lessons 4 years ago, the only thing I knew about large bodies of water was that if I was in them, the water was in charge and I was at its mercy.

(I might have control issues….)

But seriously…. Water is a scary thing if you don’t know how to handle it.

I didn’t get too terribly far with my swimming skills, considering it took me the entire first lesson to get in up to my waist. But what I did accomplish was…. amazing — at least for me it was! I learned to tread water — which my instructor made me do in the 12 foot section until I could do it for an entire minute without nearly drowning. I also learned the back float, which I was actually pretty good at once I figured out that trying to save yourself is counterproductive.

That was about all I learned.

But before taking lessons, knee deep was my limit.

Now, as long as my feet are on the ground, and my head is above the water, I’m OK.

Water slides are a different story.

I realize the water is only 3 feet deep.


You just don’t know how you’re going to land.

Water up your nose…. ear infections…. sinus infections…. bacterial meningitis!

(I might be a hypochondriac…..)

I could drown!

Do I really remember how to tread water?

Oh, wait…. it’s only 3 feet deep….

These were the thoughts coursing through my brain as I climbed the stairs and headed for my (inevitable) demise. My favorite 10-year old had coaxed me up to the top of the slide at the local water park, and I stood there, shaking, as the (very) young attendant explained to me that it was safe and I wasn’t going to die.

Are you sure?!?!

It wasn’t so bad….

…. until I got past the first curve and then I started going faster…. and faster…. and faster….

Then I hit the water.

I was thoroughly dunked. I was as dunked as a candidate at a Baptist baptismal service.

Which wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t been screaming my head off when it happened.

I’m sure you can imagine how well that went.

I pulled myself out of the pool and realized that I was shaking.

And then, said 10-year old suggested we should go on the tube slide — the one that you sit in a floatie and exit into the Lazy River.

I thought this would surely have a better outcome than my first attempt. I would have a something to hang on to, after all!

So we made our way up the stairs again, this time with big green tubes in tow, and I watched as my little pal loaded up and the slide attendant gave him a small shove.

And then it was my turn.

Again, it wasn’t so bad — until I rounded the first curve.

Basically, it was same song, second verse, a little bit louder and a little bit worse.

Around about the third curve, I was going so fast that I almost fell off the tube when it headed precariously up the side of the slide as it rounded the bend.

The screaming wasn’t reserved for the landing this time!

It was then that I realized that this thing was completely out of my control and I was at the mercy of physics and gravity whatever else determines how fast and how hard and where and on what you land after careening through that ungodly long tuby slide thingy.

I was certain I was going to die. I think I even saw my life flash before my eyes.

The terror got worse when I rounded the 87th bend (ok, fine. It was probably only the 4th or 5th) and began to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The water was coming!

And who knew if I was going alight, safe and sound, on my lovely green perch, or if I’d get dunked again?

And then….


I came to rest in the pool, right next to my little pal.

And I laughed. And I laughed. And I laughed.

I wanted to do it again.

I wanted to do it 50 more times.

Because it was.



My little pal just looked at me like I was a raving lunatic.

(I probably was!)

And his brother met me at the river exit with a sigh and a, “Now can we go??”

Oh, ok. Fine.

But seriously….

Why did I wait so long for such an amazing experience???

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Posted by on August 19, 2014 in Current Events


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I’ve concluded that finding a spouse is sort of like trying to get published. You end up getting about 9 million and 87 messages that say something along the lines of “so sorry, but the material you have presented is not acceptable” before that one person reads it through the right lens and is able and willing to read and interpret your material the way it really is rather than the way they want it to be.

Trying to find a spouse is just as discouraging as trying to find a publisher.

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Posted by on August 2, 2014 in Uncategorized


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God’s Not Dead: Thoughts on Christianity and Romance

The other day, my Bible study group and I went to see God’s Not Dead.

I enjoyed that the movie was one that made me think. If I have to sit and stare at a screen for longer than 5 minutes, it has to keep my mind engaged. This movie did that, and I enjoyed it.

I’d have to watch the movie a few more times in order to be able to comment on the arguments for and against the existence of God. I might need to take notes or something — which is hard to do in a theater, so we won’t get into those arguments.

There is another interesting elements of the movie that I’d like to comment on — you know, the softer, less logical, more emotional part. Those things are (sometimes) easier to understand….

Aside from the main theme of the movie (God’s not dead), the other blaring theme is that of relationships.

Here is a brief synopsis of the relationships in this film:

Reverend Dave and Reverend Jude: According to this movie, if you’re a white, single male pastor, it’s appropriate for you to be close friends, go on vacation and do ministry with a single black male missionary. This relationship was intact at the end of the movie.

Ayisha and her father: Ayisha’s father is a strict Muslim, who puts Ayisha on the streets when he discovers that she has a relationship with Jesus. This is a tragic cultural and spiritual issue, but I’m not sure why it’s part of the plot. It has nothing to do with the main premise of the movie (God’s not dead), and the only thing it proves is that if your family is Muslim and you are a Christian, you will lose everything if they find out.

Willie and Korie Robertson: There isn’t really anything interesting to say about this. This is the only romantic relationship that is intact at the end of the movie.

Josh and Kara: They’ve been together for 6 years, but as soon as Josh does something that Kara doesn’t agree with, she dumps him. How is it possible that they lasted 6 years without having any disagreements? This doesn’t make any sense to me because as one gets older, he/she (should) be growing in maturity, not the other way around. Kara makes a hasty exit about 1/3 of the way through the movie. Josh is left to fight his battles alone. This is (unfortunately) realistic, but very dissatisfying. Josh finds inspiration in his relationship with Reverend Dave and this relationship is intact at the end of the movie.

Amy and the Jerk: They are a non-spiritual, career-oritented couple. And as soon as he finds out that she has cancer, he dumps her. Amy’s cancer diagnosis and new single status lead her to realize (when questioned by the dcTalk dude who is now a Newsboys dude) that she has no hope.

Professor Radisson and Mina: As soon as Mina starts to stand up for herself (and her faith), the relationship implodes. Mina seeks comfort from Reverend Dave.

If you think about this movie from a relational standpoint, you will find that romantic relationships are incompatible with belief in God, unless you are a Robertson, in which case, your redneck awesomeness trumps your belief in God (at least in the romance department) and your marriage is impenetrable. Oh, if we could all be part of the Robertson clan….

As far as platonic relationships go, apparently only single white pastors get to have them. They get to (attempt to) go on vacation with their buddies. They text it up with young male college students. They counsel beautiful (but broken) women. They get to do relationship with all kinds of different people, and in the end, they pray with dying ex-athiest professors and they live happily ever after, knowing they’ve made a difference. But…. they are still (sadly) romantically unattached.

(On another note, Josh develops a friendship at the very end of the movie with the Chinese student from his class. So perhaps they are saying the only appropriate relationships between men are either with clergy or with someone from another culture?)

At any rate, the way relationships are portrayed in this movie is disturbing to me because I’ve noticed a strange trend in most of the Christian circles I’ve been part of, where romance just doesn’t happen. Let me describe briefly what I’ve noticed:

I went to a church for a while where there weren’t very many single men, but the few single men who were there made it clear that they were not “available.” I’m not sure what the reasons for this were — they were so “unavailable” that they wouldn’t even talk to me. And it wasn’t for lack of trying on my part.

I had a situation in this particular church where someone saw me speaking with a single young man twice after church. She asked a mutual male friend to tell this young man to stop talking to me because I “wasn’t ready for a relationship.”

I went to a church where the pastor made it his business who my friends were. His rule was that people who were involved in ministry (me) weren’t allowed to have friends of the opposite gender, unless all parties were involved in ministry, and then it was only appropriate if one or both of the people were married. Two single people were not allowed to spend time together unless it was chaperoned. There were specific rules stating that people involved in ministry were not allowed to date each other, but they also weren’t allowed to talk to anyone who wasn’t involved in ministry, except for very short, very generic conversations. So basically, there was no interaction between single people. Consequently, there were no sweet little romances going on at that church.

I had a group of friends who decided that I was “boy crazy” (and this was a problem) because I spoke with a male friend from church on the phone twice and mentioned it to them once. Shortly after talking with these friends, the male friend in question took me to Perkins to tell me that he wasn’t interested in me. Um? Ok? Did I say I thought you were? Can’t we be friends? I like having friends…. No? Well, this is awkward….

On a happier note, I got a free meal out of the deal. And I haven’t had a conversation with the person in question since.

His loss.

I had a male friend during that time that I only got to see or talk to when I was around the girls who accused me of being “boy crazy.” He told me I was hot once. And my entire life imploded. Literally. The girls in question just couldn’t handle it. Including myself. It was a lose-lose situation for me. If I had responded to it, I would have lost my entire life outside of him. I knew that, so I chose to not respond to it. It turned out that I lost it all anyway, because my “friends” couldn’t deal with the idea that my friend found me attractive.

My experience has been that in Christian circles, relationships between single men and single women are not encouraged because it could lead to romance and romance is not compatible with Christian belief.

I’d like to point out that God invented romance, and He said (back in the book of Genesis) that everything He invented is good. When did this change? And how? And why? And how do we get back to the idea that it is good?

Because….. I want to love God. But I want to love a husband and children and friends (of both genders) too. And I think that is the way God wants it to be.


Posted by on April 15, 2014 in Current Events


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He (was) A Jolly Good Fellow

My car and I have a special relationship.

At least we did. Until about the 21st of December.

My car has had his share of insults. Everything from other cars bumping into him to snide remarks about how he’s not going to get me from Point A to Point B, especially if Point B is further than across town.

But I believe in him.

There was the time the basketball coach from the local college (in Minnesota) drove into my car while he (my car) was parked on the side of the road. (Yes, this really happened. And yes, said coach’s insurance paid LOTS of money to repair the damage.)

And then there was the time two years later when my car was parked in the exact same spot (you’d think I would have learned….) and somebody hit the same part of the car as the coach did. And then they had the audacity to leave. Without telling me or anybody else what had happened.

(No. It wasn’t a narrow road. It just happened to be the road from the bars to the college.)

Someone once told me they didn’t think my car would last much longer. This was after the coach (and the other guy) hit it, but before the car made the acquaintance of the hay bale near Webster SD. And it was right after I made the last loan payment. I said I bet he would last me 5 more years.

It’s been 4 years and 11 months.

This particular car seems to work a lot like a Hollywood-ized romance.

Whenever somebody would say anything negative about the car, I would come to his defense. Or if anything went wrong, I would pray. And anoint him with oil — about a quart, every time I drove more than 300 miles at high speed. After I figured out that oil was important (and I should like…. check it…. sometimes), he and I got along very, very well. We were equally faithful to one another.

I admit sometimes I was a little late on oil changes and sometimes the tires may have been a little low (and I never gave him a bath), but he knew my heart was in the right place. And he was faithful. Especially when I prayed for him. (And anointed him with a quart of oil.)

Since I got my faithful little car almost 12 years ago, aside from oil changes, the only maintenance I’ve had to do was two new sets of tires and two new batteries.

Until two weeks ago.

It all started several weeks ago when I saw an ad for a used car that someone just wanted to get rid of. I looked on it with lust. It was being sold for roughly 2/3 of it’s value. It was newer. Aesthetically, it had a lot more going for it than my little buddy (who acquired several scratches and paint chips and a rather awkward-looking gash on the side while making the acquaintance of the hay bale in Webster), so I was intrigued.

My lustful thoughts must have hurt my car’s feelings. Because several weeks later, after taking him in for an oil change, the guy who delivered the car back to me asked if I was aware that the heat didn’t work.

I knew it took a little longer to heat than most cars, but it did heat.

I defended my car vociferously.

But the damage to his fragile ego had already been done.

The heater had given up the ghost, which I discovered on a very cold evening while driving to a town nearby to visit a friend. I was reminded again the next day when I went back to said town on a whim, to visit said friend, teeth chattering the whole way.

Oh, why did I not have the common sense to bring a blanket?

I realized later that I had at least 3 blankets in my car the whole time.

Oh, why did I not have the common sense to use said blankets??

I drove around without heat for a week before the mechanic had a chance to fix it. And $357 later, he was as good as new. The trip to the aforementioned “nearby town” that night was as cozy as if I’d been sitting in front of a fire, wrapped in a snuggie and drinking a big ol’ mug of cocoa.

We spent the next 8 days in comparative bliss. Even on the coldest of days, my car produced enough heat to (perhaps) warm a can of soup. Or at least, enough heat to thaw my fingers and toes, provided that my trip lasted longer than 15 minutes. Which, none of them do. (My owner’s manual says you only have to let the car run for 10 seconds before driving, even on the coldest days. I’m a rule follower. And with the price of gas these days, and the woeful state of my hourly wage, warming one’s car up is something for people of a significantly higher tax bracket and social status than I am. Even when it’s -20*F outside.)

A few days ago, the weather took a turn for the worse. We’re talking literal -20* with wind chills in the -40s. Long johns and three pairs of socks don’t cut the mustard. Exposed skin freezes instantly. And skin that is covered with only a couple of layers freezes within minutes. My fingers and toes (and nose) have been protesting obstreperously.

My car’s protest has been decidedly less obstreperous than that of my fingers and toes. Less obstreperous to the point of sluggishness. I turn the key, it makes a small effort, putt-putts for as long as I keep trying to start it and it dies as soon as I let go of the key.

Run little car. Run. Please?

I’ve checked all the fluids. The battery is working like a boss. I’ve given a dose of generic Heet (because I couldn’t find the real thing) and…. nothing. I don’t know what else to do.

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Posted by on January 7, 2014 in Current Events


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Serendipitous Me

Today is the first day of Week 8 in my Quest to Make the Acquaintance of My Inner Skinny Girl. You know — the one that’s been hiding under several (hundred) layers of Stress and Rejection and Pain and Lies Religious People have Told Me (that I was stupid enough to believe) and Self-Loathing.

You know — that illusive creature who once in a great while might peek out to see what’s going on, but the second anybody says or does anything that feels even remotely prickly or pokey or potentially harmful, she scurries back into hiding. It’s safer there.

Sort of. It might feel safer on some levels. If you’re hiding, you don’t have to risk experiencing emotional pain. Or so you might think. There’s always the chance that some hateful soul will watch you walking down the street and holler about how you need to go on a diet.

It’s been 7 full weeks since I first set out to find the elusive Skinny Girl. It’s been such a great experience! I’ve learned a lot. I’ve lost a lot of weight. Twenty pounds, to be exact. I feel so much better — on so many levels.

I’m a studious girl, so I want to share some of the things I’ve learned since the last time I posted on the topic of Things I’ve Learned.

I’ve learned that there are a couple weeks during a month that a girl should avoid weighing herself — unless her goal is to gain weight, in which case she would avoid weighing during the weeks that people like me enjoy weighing. During my most recent Don’t Weigh Week, I had been so busy (which equals doing a lot more walking than normal) and had been so careful about what I ate. I was really excited to step on the scale because I anticipated that I’d lose a decent amount that week. I stepped on the scale and much to my astonishment, I had gained 3 pounds. Three pounds. I think I actually cried.

After sopping up the tears, I was determined. Determined that I didn’t care that much anyway and life goes on. The next week I sat in my chair a lot. I had a lot of stuff I needed to get done that didn’t involve exercise, and I was sort of in survival mode. I ate what was in front of me. I counted calories, but I didn’t make too much effort in trying to keep my calorie consumption as low as normal.

And the next week, I lost the three pounds plus a couple more. It was a little bewildering.

Maybe I wasn’t eating enough the week before. Or it might be related to fluids. But what I learned is that one should never give up, simply because one week doesn’t go well. The next week could very well make up for it.

Another thing I’ve learned is that you don’t have to eat full portions. I went to Subway the other day and I wanted more than just a sandwich, so I got a sandwich and some sun chips. Sun chips are a middle-of-the-road choice, calorie-wise. I didn’t want to eat that many calories at the same time, so I ate half of the chips. I was satisfied. I ate the other half for a snack later. I found that eating a small serving of sun chips after work filled me up enough that I didn’t need to eat so much for supper. Apparently, what they say about eating more frequent, smaller meals is true. Who knew?

Finally, I’ve learned that sometimes, a girl should just kick back and eat pizza and cake and ice cream (in moderation, of course) when the opportunity arises. It’s ok. You won’t die and, if you enjoy them in moderation, it won’t negatively affect your weight-loss goals. You gotta live sometime, and it might as well be today, right?

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Posted by on October 23, 2013 in Current Events


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The Eighth and Final Square

with courage face the thing you fear so the pawn becomes the queen

Jjmum14's Blog

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Mindy Peltier

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The Eighth and Final Square

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Incongruous Circumspection

Just a few things I've been thinking about....

Just a few things I've been thinking about....


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