Monday, June 4, 2012

hello again

well, it's been too long since i've written, once again.  there have been a few times where i've started to write and then get side tracked in the middle of it, and have to start over another day.

truth is, i haven't really wanted to write that much.  because i always start talking about how much i miss gary and then get all teary eyed and can't finish what i want to say.  this is like therapy for me, and if i'm going to let it all out, it's usually about how much i miss him because that's what is on my mind the i give up and go play with the kids or take pictures or find something else to distract me.  but today i just need to get it out....i need to let it go... i never knew that this 10 months of being apart would have such an effect on our lives.  i mean, sure, i knew that i'd miss him and that we'd both get lonely from time to time and the kids would miss daddy.   but it has trickled down and changed our lives in so many ways.  it's changed me.   changed me in that i never realized how much i was dependent on gary, how much he took care of me.  i've always thought of myself as being such a strong independent woman and boy was i off.  there were a lot of times when, as a stay at home mommy, i felt as though i was taking on the world by myself.  i'm sure there are other moms who feel that way, too.  it's like we do EVERYTHING, isn't it?  now that i've been without gary for 4 months, i admit whole heartedly that i do not in fact, do EVERYTHING.  there are so many little things that i've had to learn to do while he's away.  which, in all actuality, isn't a bad thing, i guess.  i know how to flush our a/c  pipes to keep the garage from flooding.  i know how to operate our sprinkler system now to keep our lawn up to the HOA's high standards.  i know how to grow vegetables in my own garden, something i have never had any interest in, but have totally fell in love with.  i know how to take both kids to the pool by myself and actually ENJOY it and ENJOY them.   the list could go on, with such things as taking out the trash and recyclables, hanging stuff on the walls, changing the light bulbs and a/c filter and killing all of the dreaded palmetto bugs and getting the lizards out of the house.  it's been an interesting 4 months to say the least.  last week our garage door decided to break (soon after the sprinkler system meltdown), and i've never felt so incompetent and useless.  i couldn't tell you a single thing about a garage door or how it works.  i got so mad and frustrated with myself. why didn't i ever try to learn to do things around my house?  why don't i know anything about home repair/improvement or yard work or my car?  because i have a wonderful husband who always did that stuff for me.  and god, do i miss him.  in a way its good that i have had to learn to do this stuff because if we come into this situation again, i'll be much better prepared.  but i would so much rather have him here, drinking a cold one in the garage, working on the sprinkler system and changing the oil in the van for me...the fact is, we are partners, we function as a whole, a unit, if you will.  we married each other so that we could take care of one another and walk through life TOGETHER.  and right now, it just sucks to be apart.  it's what we had to do, and yes, we are grateful to God that he has a job, but it's not ever something we saw happening to us.  it's like we are living separate lives right now, and there are days when that is really hard to swallow and both of us just want it to end.  i know, i could be worse, i'm just having a pity party.   there are people in the military and single moms who do this sort of thing all the time, and i do have a new found respect for them.  i applaud them.  but....we are not military.  i am not a single mom.  this isn't how we envisioned things going.   this wasn't part of "our plan" or what we signed up for.  it's been so hard for me to let go of what i cannot change and cannot control.  it's just frustrating.  we are surviving, sure.  we see each other once every 2-3 weeks and thanks to my parents, just enjoyed a nice weekend in new orleans by ourselves.  but it's still hard.  putting the kids to bed at night is always when i miss him the most.  i'm counting down the days, weeks, and months until he's back home and we can get back to our life TOGETHER.

our kids are handling things so much better than i am.  they miss daddy every day, but it's amazing how resilient and compassionate they are.  mckenna just knows when i'm having a rough day and will give me an extra hug or tell me that i'm doing a good job.  michael's always making me laugh, and he keeps me on my toes.   not sure what i'm going to do with myself next year when he's in school every morning.  he'll be starting VPK with our beloved "Miss Trish" and he couldn't be more excited.  mckenna is going to be in 2nd grade and is very much looking forward to summer vacation and our trip to missouri.  she can't wait to go fishing with daddy and go water skiing for the first time.  it's the first family trip we are all taking together.  us, my parents, and my brother's family are all going.  and not only that, but we get to hang with my best friend and her family, too, as they are graciously hosting all of us.   gary will be flying there from pensacola to meet us and it will be a whole week of just being together and that is what we need the most right now.
because TOGETHER is what our life is all about.  -xoxo

Here are a few pics from our recent NOLA weekend
Gary checking out the beads for our krewe

My very first hurricane at Pat O Brien's

Gary having a beer at the Crescent City Brewery

Beers on Day two in NOLA, who would've thought after the hang over on day 1?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Had a great time this past weekend celebrating McKenna's 7 birthday.  First on Saturday with many of her little friends and then on Sunday with our family at home.  I truly felt like she was surrounded by nothing but love all weekend.  I don't think she stopped smiling the whole time.  She was worn out and so was I but it was all worth it.
I felt like the theme "you are my sunshine" was so perfect because McKenna is like that for me.  Whenever I'm down or sad or having a rough day, I can always count on her to do something that cheers me up. It's been like that since she was a baby.  Even now, when she can tell that I'm missing Gary or struggling with Michael, she'll give me an extra hug or tell me a joke or something to put a smile on my face.  I love her for that.  She is my sunshine, for sure.
And I can't help but think about the other "sunshines" in my life.  These past few months have been so crazy with Gary being gone.  Often times, I write on here about my parents and the rest of my family because, let's face it, they are just the best.  But I've yet to write about my girlfriends.

My friends have come through for me in more ways than I can count.  They've been there to listen to me cry, to watch my kids, to have dinner with me,  or a girls movie night in.  We meet for coffee and a treat at Panera or meet to take the kids to the playground after school.  We love to laugh and we have all kinds of inside jokes and special memories that will last us a lifetime. We like to go out and pretend we're young and wild and free, and then whine to each other the next morning about how we shouldn't have stayed out so late because we're too old for this crap! I can tell them anything and trust them to keep it safe.  They have husbands that I adore and kids that mean the world to me.
As I've gotten older and wiser, I realize that it definitely isn't about how many friends you have, it's more about the quality of the friends you have.  These ladies I've met here are some of the kindest, most compassionate, honest, and giving people I've ever known.  I can honestly say that I would be in bad shape right now without them by my side.  They are my sunshine on a daily basis.  And I love them all so very much.
Hope ya'll have a little sunshine in your lives too
: ) -j.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Birth Day

Well my baby is seven today....Can't help but think back to when it was just Gary, me, and this new little person we loved more than life itself.  God, we were terrified we might do something to hurt her or upset her or screw her up for good.  Little did we know how much our lives would forever be changed by her sweet little soul.....
I was pregnant with her almost immediately after our wedding.  I think it was two months after we got back from our honeymoon.  We were fortunate to not have any trouble conceiving and overall, I had a pretty easy pregnancy.  I remember finding out we were having a little girl and being so thrilled.  I couldn't wait to dress her up in cute little outfits and take her shopping with me and watch her dance recitals...At 38 weeks, I ended up with pneumonia and was pretty sick.  On top of that I had some issues with my sciatic nerve so by 40 weeks, I was done.  DONE.  But our little princess wasn't quite ready to make her debut.  My mom and I tried everything short of taking castor oil to get my labor started.  My dr. allowed me to go 14 days past my due date, and my induction was scheduled on day +14.  Because my parents lived in Florida at the time, my dad was waiting to come home until I went into labor.   My mom was already staying wtih us to help us with any last minute preparations and just in case I went into labor on my own.  I wanted her to be there with me, and thank the Lord, she was able to do so.  Once the induction was scheduled, my dad went ahead and flew home and I swear, it wasn't after he'd been home more than a few hours that I started labor.  It was as though McKenna was just waiting for her Pappy to get to Ohio and be there for us...

So, no induction afterall, right?!  Wrong.  Got to the hospital and after they broke my water and gave me labor inducing drugs, she still wasn't in any hurry.  Ended up having a c-section after a full 24 hours of labor.  I was exhausted, and so was Gary.  But then, in that one single second of seeing McKenna's face and holding her that very first time, nothing else mattered.  Nothing would ever compare to that one single moment.  Nothing will ever exceed the amount of love that consumed me, for Gary and for this little baby we created.  I couldn't believe she was ours.

In the first days at home with McKenna, I'm not gonna lie, I was a bit foggy.  So was Gary.  And again, without my mom's help, I'm not sure we would've made it.  She changed diapers, let us sleep during the night and gave us every single piece of advice we asked her for. Things started to get easier as we settled into a routine.  Mom went back to Florida and Gary went back to work.  I decided to not go back to work and there I was, home all day, taking pictures of her to send to my parents , and dressing her up in the thousands of outfits we had gotten for her as gifts.  I bet I changed her clothes 3 times a day!

When I think back to the three of us, living in a teeny little house, just scraping by, making ends meet, we were just living on love.  We couldn't have been happier.  May sound corny but it's true. Gary was working a lot of hours in a job he didn't like and I was going to school 3 nights a week and on the weekends to finish my masters.  Nothing mattered except how much we wanted to take care of McKenna, keep her safe,and protect her from this crazy world.  We wanted to experience everything with her, and we took her all kinds of places to let her explore and discover and enjoy everything and everyone around her.

Becoming parents changed us for the good.  It strengthened our marriage, it opened our eyes to see what was important, and it made me realize that this is what God put me on this Earth to do.  Parenthood has it's ups and downs. Some days are good and some days are crazy bad.  But every night when I put McKenna, and now Michael also, to bed, and they say, "I love you sweet Mommy", I thank my lucky stars for every blessing I've been given and for the road that led me right here to this spot today.
Happy Birthday to my saving grace, McKenna.... I love you sweet girl....

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Oh how I've missed you....

Geeesh.  I can't believe it's been almost 2 months since I've written on here.  Once again my dreams of writing on a daily or even weekly basis have been shot down and totally put on the back burner.  It seems that whenever I think I will have time to write, something happens or someone gets a boo-boo or needs more milk, or the phone rings, or the dog needs out, you get the idea....But so much has happened in our lives since my last post and I'm anxious to fill you in on some of the details....Writing for me has always been good therapy, so brace yourselves.  I've got a lot to say : ) Although, I guess since most of you are on facebook, you probably already know most everything about me and us, but bear with me as I elaborate a little....

Since my previous post, Gary has gotten settled in to life in Pensacola and the three of us are finally into a decent routine here at home.   Although I still hate that he's away, I've learned to accept it and try to see the positive in it and move forward from there.  I remember when he got his apartment and moved in, I just couldn't get my head around the whole thing.  An apartment?  For my husband of 8 years?  8 hours away? And I'm happily married?  Strange, yes.  Overwhelming, yes.  Emotional roller coaster, yes.  All of the above.  But I learned very quickly that you have to roll with the punches and keep on truckin'.  Some days are harder than others, but we are managing and surviving here in our little corner of the world.  My parents and my best friends have helped me in more ways than I could ever write and sometimes I think they don't realize how much they get me through the bumps in our road.....I thank God for them every day and I know it makes Gary feel a little better to know that we have people looking out for us here.
The hardest part in all of this for me has been all of the little things about Gary that I realize now I took for granted and got annoyed with for no apparent reason.....Which is probably a good thing for our marriage because I find myself now being so much more appreciative of him and the father and husband and friend to me that he is.  I miss him sitting by me on the couch in the evening and how he is so slow to fast forward through the commercials on the DVR.  I miss him sitting out in the garage taking a nap, which used to drive me insane.  I'd be in the house with the kids fighting and there he is just snoozin' away, all cozy and happy in the garage.  I can't tell you how many times in the past two months,  I've walked into the garage and just wished I'd see him sitting there asleep in his lawn chair.  Oh, and the snoring.....Believe it or not, I miss the snoring next to me, sometimes within seconds of us going to bed.  I used to be like, "Are you kidding me?  He was just talking to me, and now he's snoring?!"  But oh what I wouldn't give to have him there next to me at night....
As for Gary, people ask me a lot how he's doing in Pensacola.  And truthfully, I think it is much harder on him than us.  My good friend, Jaime, recently told me this and I think it's so true. She said, "Remember, you have one person to miss and he's got three."  I never thought of it that way, but when she said it, it resonated with me.  It's kinda funny, actually.  He's always telling me how he misses the noise in the house and the chaos that is our little Michael....All the while, I'm begging for quiet and alone time and what I wouldn't give for a meal by myself!
But anyways, his job is going well and I'm so proud of him for being there and doing this.  He is doing what needed to be done for our family, and regardless of how hard it is on us, we both knew that God led him to it and it was what needed to be done at the time.  I truly believe that it will make us stronger and better people.
And now for some fun stuff....We have a new puppy that was a HUGE surprise for our little ones.  Emmie is her name and she is the sweetest little thing.  In fact, I think my dad may be more in love with her than we are.  She is 14 weeks old, getting better on the house training, and as playful as can be.  It has brought such joy to the kids, almost too much if you ask me.  I can't say that I love the delightful squeals and hilarious (and LOUD) laughter at 6 am, but I guess it could be worse ;-)  Momma just needs her coffee before anything LOUD in the morning!!!
School is winding down for McKenna, I can't believe she's going to be going into second grade and will be turning seven this month.  What happened to my little baby?!  She's just like her mommy , busy planning what kind of birthday party she wants and what the theme and color scheme will be.  The apple doesn't fall from the tree in this case!  Michael is loving his little preschool class at the YMCA  and just keeps asking me, "But Mommy, when can I ride the bus?"  Baby steps, little man....Mommy is nowhere near ready to send you off on a school bus....I can barely stand the fact that he is growing out of the cuddles in the morning and the "Mommy, hold me!" phase.   Like most of my other mommy friends, I'm sad to see them grow up so fast, but I know it's my job to let them go and be the capable, responsible, little people they are meant to be.
Well, that's it for now.  It's Thursday night and that means "Swamp People" is on TV.  I just wish Gary was here to watch with me and talk in his best cajun accent that I love....
Good night ya'll.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

tiny dancer

i remember when i first found out i was having a daughter, i was thrilled.  a little princess i could dress up and go shopping with, and share secrets with.... and in my case, i was also happy that i'd be able to teach her to lay down a good bunt and shoot free throws just like i did.
however, as mckenna has started to become her own little self, it has become clear that she is not the super star athlete i had hoped she'd be.  don't get me wrong, she is a super star, no doubt.  but she has zero interest in playing softball or basketball or any sport for that matter.  "those are for boys" she says.  at first, i struggled with it because i so badly wanted to coach her in something, anything.  but as time went on and i started to see how much joy she got out of acting, dancing, singing and performing, i realized that it isn't about what i want her to be.  this is up to her.  and it's my job to encourage, nourish, and support whatever it is she chooses to do.
 how on earth i created such an artistic little thespian is beyond me.  every day i watch her and am amazed at the imagination and creativity that flows from her little brain.  she loves to put on plays (in which she is the set designer, producer, director, and of course star of the show), write music, play the guitar, and play dress up.   i'm posting some pics of her in her jazz dance class.  each week she smiles from ear to ear the entire time she's there.  it makes me happy from the inside out to know that she is doing what she loves.  i can see her name in lights someday, and i just hope she scores her momma some good seats for the show : )

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Yo Ho Yo Ho..A pirate's life for me...

You may not know this, but my dad is a pirate...Yep, you read that right.  El Papitan, as we like to call him.  And he's the coolest pirate I know.  He leads a krewe of about 20 of us as we invade the city of Tampa each year with thousands of other pirates, armed with cherry bombs, tattoos, beads, and maybe even a little rum.  Gasparilla 2012 is upon us and I cannot wait to celebrate with my very best friends and family.  It's a time for us to act like we're young again, partying all day and screaming for beads as if they were made of real gold.   We laugh, we yell, and if we're lucky, we make it to dinner (although I've yet to do so....)
This year our friends are flying in from Ohio for their 4th Gasparilla, and we've added other new Krewe members as well.  I am looking so forward to forgetting about all of the stress of our everyday lives and just having some good ol' fashioned pirate fun.  My man is going to be in town, my brother and sister in law are coming up, my parents will be there, and I will be surrounded by the best friends I've ever had.  Can't ask for much more than that.
To my fellow pirates, a great big ARRRGGGHHH to get the weekend festivities started off right!
(excuse the poor quality pics)
Our very first pirate experience.  1st Gasparilla for the Daughertys/Ryans/Slaters.  

Our Krewe last year.  Except for the guy and girl dressed like actual pirates.  No idea who the heck they are : )

The Jose Gaspar ship coming into the city.  

Gasparilla 2011 , showing off our awesome bracelets.

Our 2nd Gasparilla, rainy, rainy, rainy.  
Ahoy mateys - Littlefoot (my pirate name)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


A few lessons learned during my trip up North with Gary....Lesson number one, I learned that all the cool kids say P'cola (sounds like picola) and don't bother with the rest of it.  Second, I learned that there really is a place called "Florabama" which holds a church service on Sundays complete with bloody marys and picnic tables.   Now that's my kind of place.  It is literally located in both Florida and Alabama.  Kinda cool.  And lastly, I was reassured that there is no beach quite like Ft Myers Beach.  Never has been, never will be any that compare.  Don't get me wrong, the sand and public beaches were nice and well kept in Perdido Key,Orange Beach and even Pensacola Beach. However,  I wasn't all that impressed with much else.  Not many shops or restaurants or cool little bars like "The Cottage" or "Beached Whale".  Perhaps it will just take time to get to know the area a little better.  So for now, I'll keep an open mind.

Gary and I were successful in finding him an apartment (yay!) although it took up the majority of our time while we were there.  His new place is right by the base where he'll be working and I made sure there was a WalMart nearby (hey, WalMart is important, people!) Not to mention, his nephew lives just a mile or two away and he'll be able to visit them often.  The apartment will come furnished with everything he'll need.  All he'll have to bring is clothes and food, so that is a big relief.  He won't have to mess with moving any furniture or buying any linens or dishes or things like that.  They're going to put bunk beds in the extra bedroom so the kids will have a cool place to sleep when we go to visit this spring and summer.  And there's a pool and playground at the complex to keep them entertained.   We both think he'll be happy there, and it's a huge weight lifted off of our shoulders.

When we weren't apartment hunting, Gary and I truly enjoyed being together.  I think that so often when you are married with young kids, you forget how to be husband and wife and can only identify as "mommy" or "daddy".  We haven't spent 4 whole days together by ourselves since before we had McKenna.  Almost seven years ago!  It was good for us to re-connect and remember why we're here in the first place.   We had a two hour dinner one night at a restaurant.  That never happens.  Another day we just got in the car and took off driving down the beach, listening to music WE WANTED to listen to and not "Toy Story 3" on the kids' dvd player in the back seat.  We stopped to put our feet in the sand and take pictures.   He also took me to meet the guys he'll be working with and see the buiding he'll be renovating.  I feel better knowing them and being able to picture now where he is when I'm talking to him.  There's a "comfort" in familiarity and it eases my mind a little bit.

Most importantly, we laughed.  We had fun.  We let go of most the stress that's been hovering over us for the past month or two.  We put it aside and took the time to just "be".   We trust in God that He will get us to where we need to be, even if this isn't what we had necessarily planned.  This morning, I said goodbye to him, and hugged him tight and felt happy for the first time in a long time.

Half in Florida, Half in Alabama.  There were about 300 people at the church service.

Watched the sunset in downtown P'cola

He searched for just the right shells to take home to Mac.  Such a good daddy.

The beach at Perdido Key

At Quietwater Beach

Look close on the right, there were tons of fish surfing each wave, very neat!

See you soon Pensacola.  Take care of him for me : )

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hello Again

When I started this blog, I thought I'd be posting every day.  Boy was I wrong.  I figured it would be theraputic to release my stress by writing on my blog each night....But now here we are, halfway through January and I've written once or twice.  There is just no time!
The new year has gotten off to a fast start for us.  I've been busy with my photography, finishing up my first wedding shoot, getting McKenna and Michael back into our routine, and prepping for Gary to head to Pensacola.  We are heading there this weekend for about 4 days to find him an apartment.  Kind of weird to be apartment hunting for your husband when you are in a perfectly happy marriage....But, this is the hand we've been dealt and now it's time to move forward.  I'm hoping that by visiting the area where he's going to be, I'll be able to get my head around it and accept the change a little better.
This weekend will be the first time I've been away from my little ones for more than a night.  Well, actually, I was in Ireland for 10 days when McKenna was 1 but that's it.  Never been away from my little man.  Not sure what I'll do without hearing them say "Mommy!" first thing every morning or Michael say "I love you sweet Mommy" each night at bedtime.  I won't have to pack lunch or play with Toy Story action figures or chase them around our "loop" in the kitchen. What on Earth will I do with myself?!  What will I watch on tv if I'm not watching Nick Jr.  ?
I'm grateful to have parents that are willing and able to keep the kids for us.  They are beyond excited to spend 5 days with MawMaw and Pappy.  In fact, I'm wondering if they'll want to come home when I get back....I'm sure they'll have lots of fun and do all the cool things that they don't usually get to do at home...That's what grandparents are for, afterall, right?!  My kids are so lucky. They hit the "grandparent lotto" with my parents.  I hope someday I can be as good to my grandkids as they are to mine.
Tonight, the four of us spent some time out in the backyard before dinner was ready.  Just goofing around while I took some pictures.  I know Gary's only going to be gone for a short time, but right now, it seems like forever.  I just want to hold on to the moments that he is here now, and bottle them up so that when I miss him, I can take them each out and remember.  Remember how good of a daddy he is and remember that he is my rock and together, we can get through this.
Here are some of my "moments" from tonight...

McKenna is such a joy.  She smiles and my heart is happy.

Okay I admit it.  He has me wrapped around his finger....

Whaddup? !

Hangin' by her toes, she is so proud that she can do this now.

I'm beginning to see more and more of these eye rolls....Hmmm...Not sure how I feel about this.

A rare photo with mommy : )

I love this picture....He is the good in our life.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2012....Changes, Challenges, and even the chills!

Well, here we are.  2012.  hard to believe, isn't it?  the new year is upon us, and for the Slater family it means big changes.
Some of you already know this, but for those who don't....we found out in late December that Gary's job is going to be taking him to work in Pensacola for much of the coming year.  He'll be leaving in a week or two and will be living there until the end of September.  His company will fly him home once a month for weekend visits, and I'm sure we'll both be making the 8 hour drive there and back often...While it does have some advantages for Gary in his career, it's going to be a pretty big adjustment for the kids and I.  We are used to having Daddy there every night for dinner and bath and bedtime and playtime, and when I think about him being gone, I just can't get my head around it.  I miss him already and he hasn't even left yet.
They say that God only gives you what you can handle, so I'm trying to have faith in Him and trust that He knows best.  For now, we are just asking for prayers for our family to adjust to the change and we are trying to do as much as we can to make this easy for the kids.  McKenna is looking forward to visiting Daddy at a new beach and seeing a part of Florida we've never been to.  Gary and I have a strong marriage and a healthy relationship and  I know we'll get through it.  But still, sending some positive thoughts our way couldn't hurt, so thank you in advance!!!  I read a quote the other day that spoke to me and what we're going through.  It went like this..."Sometimes good things fall apart so that even better things can fall into place."  That's the way I'm trying to look at this and so far, so good.

Ok enough about that and on to a lighter topic...It's winter in Florida.  Last night we actually had our coldest temps so far!  We were below freezing in some areas around here and I even got some pics of the ice on our grass.  Crazy!  One of my most favorite things to see when it gets cold here is the way that people cover up their plants and bushes with blankets so they don't die when it dips below freezing.  Driving down our street you can see house after house with comforters and sheets covering all of their landscaping.  It's quite a sight.  The first winter we lived here, I remember telling Gary, "You should see our neighbors yard, they have their laundry hanging out to dry all over the front yard."  He just laughed at me and explained that people here try to keep their stuff from being killed by the cold.  And now, 4 years later, as I sit here typing this, we have blankets covering our orange tree out back!
McKenna keeps asking if it's going to snow, and it breaks her heart when I tell her, "probably not."  For now, she'll just have to settle for the fake snow we see at Disney World  : )  This morning for school she wore three layers: a winter coat, a hat, gloves, and a scarf and was still complaining of being cold.  Good thing the winter here only lasts about a week.  Back in the low 70's this weekend and we'll be headed outdoors somewhere to enjoy the gorgeous, cooler, weather.  Because in a few months, we'll be begging for lower temperatures and a breeze to cool us off...

Michael wearing his winter hat for the first time this year : )

A house down the street has their bushes out front covered up.  This is what every house looks like on my street. 
Our precious orange tree from Gary's mom....Hoping it survives...

ICE!!!!!!!  it was on our grass this morning.
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