Monthly Archives: November 2009

South America – Day 99

Happy Birthday to Allyn!  Sometimes I can’t believe all that has happened in my life in recent years.  It has been a little over five years since I met Derick.  Four and a half years ago we bought a house to get ready for our life together with Christian, which began four years ago.  Three and a half years ago we had Aida, our only daughter.  Two years and one month ago Derick joined the Navy.  Two years ago today, Allyn was born.  In February it’ll be a year since I quit my job doing hair.  Then in August our youngest child, Brody was born and soon after Derick left for Cuba.  And here we are today.  Wow!  I feel like all I’ve been doing for the last 4 years is having babies.  I’m ready to move on to the next stage of my life.  I’m ready to raise the kids that I have and take care of my husband.  I’m ready to get in shape, in an effort to keep up with the kids that I have. 

One way I can do that is by encouraging my kids to try new things.  No, I’m not talking about just food, (although, in that area, I wish Allyn would try new things!)  It could be anything from cooking to mechanics, from music to sports, from computers to art.  I can already see that all of my kids have interests in all different things.  “When home is a research lab, I know I will encounter possibilities when I am at home.”  There are still skills that I want to learn from my parents but at the same time, I want my kids to learn those skills too.  Someday I really want to have a garden.  And from that garden I really want to learn how to freeze and/or can vegetables.  I want homemade stewed tomatoes to make chili with.  I want homegrown canned green beans to eat in the winter time instead of frozen from the store.  Everything just tastes better when you worked hard at making it yourself.  My mom knows how to do all of those things and I want her to show me everything she knows.  And, I want my kids to learn this skill too.      

Of all of my kids, I think Aida is the most interested in cooking.  When Derick left for BootCamp, Aida and Christian both wanted to help me with the cooking.  Aida turned 2 while he was away, but she was still a big help.  I could trust her not to touch hot things and to continue stirring a pot while I had my back turned for a few minutes doing something else.  Now Derick is gone again, and Allyn is that same age.  I, actually, don’t trust him at all in the kitchen.  I’m sure I will eventually, but he has no interesting in eating unless its pb&j, and certainly no interest in cooking.  Aida on the other hand cracks an egg better at 3 than Christian does at almost 8.  But that’s ok, because Christian is better at other things.  He has great interest in soccer and music.  He didn’t get to play soccer this year because I didn’t make it to the Christian Center to sign him up in time, and he was really disappointed.   Hopefully, there will be many other opportunities for that.  Christian also enjoys art.  He takes an art class after school on Monday nights, and really seems to love it. 

Anyway, I really want to be the kind of parent that can encourage my kids to try new things.  And not be discouraging when they want to try something just because I don’t know much about it.  I don’t want to discourage Christian from learning the guitar just because I may get a headache from listening to him for the first year.  And I don’t want to discourage Aida from learning to cook just because her first pot of chili may not taste like mine.  Even if they aren’t professional musicians or chefs when they grow up it is still helpful to have at least some skills in many areas.  Who knows, maybe someday, with a little encouragement my kids will be showing Derick the latest things on computers, instead of the other way around! 

One thing I took away from this chapter in my book, is that if my kids show an interest in something that I am not interested in, I need to work at being interested in it.  I think the same is true with our spouses.  Derick loves it that I have learned so much about baseball and the Cubs.  He loves that he can hold a decent conversation about Major League Baseball with his wife, of all people, and that every year for our anniversary, we plan to go to a Cubs game.    But, if I can’t do this for my life partner, how am I going to do it with my kids.  Derick and I really don’t know much about soccer, but if Christian continues to play through school, we need to learn so that we can sincerely encourage him to do his best.  “For the most part, kids need the opportunity to try many activities to discern their skills and interests.  When home is a research lab, it provides a perfect place for self discovery.”


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South America – Day 98

Tomorrow is Allyn’s birthday.  He will be 2 years old, so, we have plans to put up a Christmas tree tomorrow night.  I’ve been trying to decide how to have a birthday party either before or at the same time.  I’ve also been toying with the idea of making it a tradition to put up the Christmas tree every year on his birthday.  I can’t decide if that would be a good tradition or not.  Lots of people put up their tree over Thanksgiving weekend.  His birthday won’t always be that weekend but it will always be after Thanksgiving.  For now, while he is little, I’m sure it will be exciting.  

Children love to celebrate.  Sometimes it doesn’t even matter what it is, “it” needs to be celebrated.  When I was growing up we “celebrated” Sundays.  We all wrestled on the living room floor with my dad and then we had donuts for breakfast.  It was tradition.  Even when our church started serving breakfast, we continued to have donuts at home for breakfast, for a long time.  Derick and I celebrate everytime we get to stay in a hotel.  We get dessert and a pay-per-view movie and we sit in bed at night, watching our movie and eating our dessert.  When I went to California to visit Derick we had a suite so we tried to put Aida in bed first in her room, but as soon as the movie started and she saw us eating dessert she crawled in bed with us and shared the dessert.  She loved being part of that tradition.  I’m really not very good, as an adult, at celebrating little things in life with my kids.  Actually, I have to admit, I’m just not very good at planning celebrations at all.  I even struggle with my kids’ birthdays.  Poor Christian asks every year if he can have a party and invite all of his friends.  Every year I say yes, and then don’t plan, and don’t plan, and don’t plan and the birthday comes and the birthday goes and I didn’t plan.  Every year I think, this will be the year. 

“When home is a pep rally, I know I am celebrated when I am at home.”  Have you ever noticed that it is so easy to praise the accomplishments of babies and toddlers, but the older the child gets the harder it gets.  The “good job” turns into “you could have done better than this”.  I can praise Aida and Allyn for helping me put the dishes away, but I forget to even say thank you when Christian does the whole job himself.  This is one area that my book talks about that I need some serious improvements.  Birthdays are especially a source of frustration with me.  I have such a tendancy to procrastinate that the party never gets planned (not just for Christian but all the kids).  Then I feel like such a failure as a mother… over a simple birthday party.  But other things should be celebrated too, other events and accomplishments.  Sporting events, music concerts, school papers on which someone worked very hard, no matter what the final grade was, or just general improvements in various tasks.  I think I need to just sit down with Derick (maybe over Skype since we’ll have 2 birthdays and several holidays while he is gone) and decide what we want to do as a tradition for these special days and events.  In my family many traditions have evolved over the years.  But because they evolved and weren’t planned ahead of time, I missed out on some of these, being the oldest child.  My mom always picks the birthday person up from school and takes him out to lunch on their birthday.  I think I had already moved out when this tradition started.  Also, on a birthday, my dad goes to Walgreens at about 5am and buys goofy gifts (magazines, hand held fans, and frappacinos), one from each person that is at home that morning.  He comes home and wraps them and labels them from each person, then leaves them at the birthday persons place a the table, to open at breakfast.  And there is always a silly explanation for each one.  I think I was in high school when this tradition started.  I guess I’m focusing on birthdays because we don’t have many school or sports functions yet in my family. 

I don’t know how many readers I have but feel free to post comments and let me know some of your traditions, birthday or otherwise.  I want to be able to celebrate my children.  I want them to know that Derick and I are gonna be their cheerleaders and we will lead the rest of the “pep squad” (brothers and sister) in cheering them on in whatever area of their life needs cheering.

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South America – Day 97

I just realized that I am past the half way point.  I have a calendar with the days numbered according to how long Derick has been gone.  He is scheduled to return to the States on February 15.  So, I only have 87 days left until that day.  I missed the half way point by 10 days.  I guess if this is a journal of my life while Derick is gone, I should write about Thanksgiving.  I kind of had a rotten Thanksgiving.  But at the same time I was getting Twitter updates from a friend whose Thanksgiving was worse than mine. 

My kids and I layed around all morning, yesterday, and watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Then at 2:00 we went to my aunt and uncle’s house.  I wasn’t there 20 minutes before Allyn peed his pants.  My mom came and told me while I was feeding Brody.  I gave her new pants and told her that if he pooped I was going home.  Well, sure enough, about 20 minutes later, my little cousins came and found me and told me that he pooped his pants.  I started sobbing.  I took him to the bathroom and gave him a wet wipe bath.  Then I loaded up him and Brody and I went home.  I was there one hour and I had one plate of food.  I wanted to feel sorry for myself but I kept getting these Twitter updates from a friend who got turkey caught in his throat yesterday and had to have emergency surgery to remove it.  Now that’s a rotten Thanksgiving!  At least I ate my turkey!

I read another chapter in my book, “My Heart’s at Home” by Jill Savage.  This one is called Home as a Church.  I think one of the biggest things that I got out of this chapter is being able to pray with my kids.  I have friends in my life that pray as a family and their little kids pray on their own and they all talk about God as if it is just overflowing from their life.  Every word of encouragement that comes out of their mouth is to keep strong in the faith.  Every situation that they talk about involves what God is currently doing in their life.  It is woven through every part of everyday.  It is not their church life, their home life, their work life.  Its all one.  And God encompasses every area.  They open their mouth and God just spills out.  But its never in a way condemning to the people around them.  It is always in a way that demonstrates Christ’s love. 

There are two things I took away from this chapter in the book.  The first one is that I want to be able to pray about everything in my life as if it is second nature.  And the second is that I want to teach my kids to do the same.  In order for me to do that, I have to make sure that I have a relationship with Jesus Christ, not just the religion of Christianity.  If Christianity were my religion, I would be able to seperate it from the rest of my life.  When I have a relationship with Jesus Christ, he is part of everything I do, much like the relationship that I have with Derick.  Even though Derick is out of the country, we are still “one flesh”, (Genesis 2:24). 

So, how do I do this, and teach my kids to do this?  I think the first thing is to get beyond meal-time and bed-time prayers and begin to pray about everyday situations and people in our lives.  Start by asking them what they think we should pray for instead of having a “routine” prayer every night.  Or pray for little things like skinned knees.  Also, thanking God for things that he has given us and for keeping us safe.  I remember once when Christian bumped his face and got a nose-bleed (he was 3), Derick and I told him to pray for his nose-bleed.  He promptly put his head between his knees and said, “Dear God, Thank you for my blood!”  And after that for a long time he thanked God every night at bedtime, for his blood.

I don’t know why, but I think this can be a tough chapter to apply.  (Its even tough to write about.)  I think praying with someone is so intimate that it just feels awkward at first, almost intimidating.  I want to teach my kids to have faith that God can do anything.  That “If you ask anything in my [Jesus] name, I will do it.” (John 14:14).  But in order to teach it, I have to believe it.  Sometimes, the actions have to come first.  I need to pray about something  just because I know that I need to and believe that God will give me the faith required.  Othertimes, I seem to have the faith first and its just natural to follow with prayer.  The best way to teach this is to be an example.  I have to be faithful in praying for my friends if I expect my children to pray for theirs.  If I don’t believe God can change my situations, then I can’t expect my kids to pray about situations that they are faced with.  And if I am not praying for my children then they are lost, because I can’t expect anyone else to do it for me.  

“When home is a church, I know my heart will find faith when I’m at home.”

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South America – Day 96

Sixteen years ago yesterday, my family got a phone call saying that my grandfather had a heartattack and passed away.  What devistating news to receive the day before Thanksgiving!  That was the only time I really remember seeing my dad really cry.  I remember getting ready to go to my grandma’s house in Iowa.  My aunt and uncle came over to see what they could do for us while we were gone.  I don’t remember the conversation but somewhere in the middle of it all, my dad broke down and cried at the loss of his father.  My aunt and uncle put their arms around him and just let him cry.  What a tramatic thing, to lose a parent.  I dread that day in my own life.

But, at that time in our lives, home was a place to grieve and feel the pain of losing a loved one.  What happens if home is not that place?  Our homes should be a “Trauma Unit”.  (Its funny how the chapters in this book seem to correspond with what is going on in my everyday life.  Probably a good sign that God wanted me to read it! )  Anyway, all of my kids have been fighting colds just about from the time that Derick left.  Christian’s has finally got the best of him.  He was supposed to spend Thanksgiving with his daddy.  (Joe is daddy, Derick is dad.)  I talked to his grandma yesterday and felt obligated to tell her about his cold because I knew that she wouldn’t want to be around the cold germs.  She said they would wait and pick him up on Thursday morning instead of Wednesday night to give him a chance to rest and recover.  Then she called back later that day to say that they wouldn’t be getting him at all.  Christian’s great grandparents are leaving on Friday to spend the winter in Florida and they don’t want to get sick before they go.  I understand that, but it was so disappointing for Christian!  I gave him a hug and tried to comfort him as best I could.  I tried to explain to him why he needed to stay with me instead of going with them but in the end it still hurt his deeply-sensative, 7-year-old heart, and I just had to let him be sad for a while. 

“With home as a trauma unit, I know my wounded heart will find healing when I am at home.”  This is the kind of home environment I want to create for my family.  Not just a place where it is ok to let down your walls in everyday situations, but also in the really hurtful and disappointing things in life.  I want my children to know that if they had a really hard day at school, they can come home to recover.  I don’t want home to add to the stress.  With all the stresses that children face these days, the last thing they need is for home to compound the problem. 

Most people have heard the phrase, “Its different when its your own kids.”  I don’t think it is possible to fully comprehend that phrase until you actually have kids, and furthermore, until you have kids in school.  It hurts me when my kids get hurt.  I cried when we had to take Aida to the ER to get stitches in her forehead.  But it hurts me even more when kids are mean to Christian at school.  Maybe its because I knew the solution to the cut on Aida’s forehead, but I can’t always do anything about the mean kids at school.  But what I can offer is a safe place to go after a stressful day in my kids’ lives. 

Everyday, I am reminded of what a key role our family has in our personal lives.  Yesterday afternoon I went to Salon True to perm my grandma’s hair.  I love doing hair and during those 2 hours, I really missed working in a salon.  And when I got home, the evening was crazy.  But I wouldn’t change my job as a mother right now for a six-figure job at Bumble and Bumble!  (That’s a well known, top of the line salon in New York City, for those of you who were wondering.)  Everyday I am more convinced of the foundational role that family has in our lives.  If the foundation is faulty, the rest of the structure is going to be faulty.  Now is the time, while my kids are young, to develop habits of listening to them, and praying with them, rather than trying to just brush their problems under the rug or trying to solve it for them.  Yes, my problems may have a bigger impact on the family as a whole, but to Christian, yesterday, no problem was bigger than having to stay home on Thanksgiving instead of visiting his Jolliff family.  As a mother, its my job to recognize and understand that.

Today, I am thankful that I am a wife and a mother.  There was a time in my life when I thought I couldn’t be both.  But God is faithful and he heard my prayers.  I am so proud of my husband.  I am proud to say that I am a United States Navy wife!  I consider it a privilege to stay home and raise 4 children so that Derick can do his job protecting our country and our family.

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South America – Day 95

When I was growing up I remember my family having dinner together almost every night of the week.  I don’t think it was a deliberate effort to spend time with each other.  It was just that my mom fixed dinner for everyone and when it was ready, we all sat down to eat it.  I remember talking and laughing together.  I remember saying things in the midst of conversations that my dad didn’t like.  And I remember when we would ask to be excused (especially if we were the first one to ask), my dad generally said “No, I’m not done lookin’ atcha yet.”  It irritated us at the time, but now I find myself saying that to my own kids.  I especially say it when I take my kids to my parent’s house for dinner.  If they asked to be excused, the first thing that pops out of my mouth is, “No, ‘Baba’ isn’t done looking atcha yet.”  (Baba is what they call my dad.  Not sure where they picked it up, but the name has stuck.) 

The chapter in my book today is called “Home as a Rest Area”.  One thing that really stood out to me today is what she said about family dinners.  There was a study done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.  It said that “teens who ate dinner five to seven times a week with their families were 45% less likely to try alcohol, 24% less apt to smoke marijuana, and 67% more likely to get A’s compared with kids who never or rarely dined with their families.”  Now, of course, I don’t want my kids to try alcohol or marijuana and I want them to excel in school.  But, more than that, I want to know them and I want to start the kind of open communication that encourages them to come and talk to me if they are faced with these kinds of choices.  I also want them to feel like they can have fun with their family.  I don’t want it to be a chore to spend time with each other.  My kids are very young right now, but I can already tell there are relationships forming that are healthy and loving inspite of the sibling rivalry that sometimes occurs.

The point of the chapter is that families should be able to think of home as a place to rest and recuperate.  Life is so busy and so instant in this day and age that people need a place to recover.  I have noticed with my own family that kids don’t always want a place to recover.  Christian asks me everyday after school if we are going somewhere.  Most nights I say no, but he still gets so disappointed.  Right now it is easy to stay home and do nothing.  It is easy to have family dinners and plan a “family fun night”.  They are all little and because of that, its too much work for me to take them very many places.  Its when they are older that there will be more involvement and more commitment required. 

Last night we had a family night.  There wasn’t a whole lot of interaction but it was nice to just relax on the couch with my kids.  I got a pizza from Papa Murphy’s (minimal clean up), and the latest Scooby Doo movie.  Aida kept saying the movie was scary.  I told her its not scary, its funny.  She did laugh through most of the movie.  Even Allyn sat and watched the whole thing.  After the movie was over Aida, Allyn and Brody went to bed.  Then Christian and I stayed up late and watched G.I. Joe.  It was exciting for him to stay up late with me and watch a movie in my room.  (I have the bigger and better TV in my bedroom.  It was Derick’s birthday present last year.)  I love spending time with my kids.  Sometimes, though, it requires such an effort that I just opt not to do it.  What I forget is that they like to do everyday things with me.  Right now, at this stage in their lives, they just like being with me.  They don’t care if being with me means going grocery shopping, or folding laundry or fixing dinner.  (Cleaning their room is still an undesirable task.)  They just love it when I pay attention to themand intentionally include them in my life.  Sometimes when I fix lunch for them and not for me, they insist that they won’t start eating until I sit and eat with them.  I need to enjoy this stage of life.  All too soon, they will be teenagers and mom will be embarrassing! 🙂  God made families as a foundation in life.  I need to remember to nurture the relationships while I can, not neglect them because its a hassle at the moment.

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South America – Day 94

For the past couple of months, I have gotten up early to do my Bible Study lesson before the kids wake up.  Last Tuesday was the last day of my Esther Bible study for the year.  I have had a hard time deciding what to do in those early morning hours so that I am still studying God’s word and still being motivated to get out of bed.  I thought about going through an old Bible Study book called Believing God by Beth Moore, the same woman that wrote Esther.  But when I got on iTunes to get the videos, I couldn’t find them, which is funny because I just saw them on there a couple of weeks ago.

So today, I started reading a book that I bought last spring at the Hearts at Home conference.  I have a stack of books from the conference and have only started one until today.  I thought this would be a great time to learn about being a better mom, wife, home-maker, etc. based on scripture.  The book is called My Heart’s at Home by Jill Savage.  She is the one that started the Hearts at Home conferences.  This book is all about the different roles a home should be.  Since my chosen profession right now is (single) motherhood, defining and creating these roles for the home falls under my job description.  

The first role is “Home as a Safe House”.  Until I heard Jill Savage speak at the conference about this subject, I had never thought about all the different roles a home has for a family.  Home being a safe place was always in the back of my mind but I had never thought about how to make it that way.  Home is where we can let the walls down and really be ourselves.  But it should be a place where we feel comfortable in doing that.  We should feel loved unconditionally and accepted.  One thing that she said in the book, that really stood out to me is, “Am I a good listener?” and “Am I a safe person to talk to?”  Do I really listen when my kids talk to me?  Do I encourage them to keep talking, by what I say in response, by the looks on my face, and by my body language?  Or am I criticizing them just by a glance or a smirk?  My kids are young right now, but if they can’t talk to me now, how would I ever expect them to talk to me when they get older and their questions and situations in life get really hard? 

Proverbs 1:8 says, “My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother.”  What kind of law am I setting in my house when I am interacting with my husband and my children?  Children are going to follow your example more than your words.  If I am being disrespectful to Derick, I am only teaching my kids to be disrespectful to him and to each other. 

I also want my home to be a place where it is safe to fail.  If they don’t feel safe to fail at home then where will it be ok?  When they are little I want to be able to teach them to do things at home and practice doing them at home, so that they will be well equipped for life.  When they are older and they fail in school or in life, in general, I want our home to be someplace where they can come and feel safe to tell me (and Derick) about it and find comfort and the strength to try again.  I know there are going to be plenty of ways that my children fail that I would rather not hear about but like I said before, I want them to feel safe telling me.  I can’t shirk away from that responsibility as a mother. 

Potty training has been a good example of  home as a safe place to fail.  Allyn needed my undivided attention to really learn how to use the toilet.  When I gave it to him, he caught on right away.  But it took me a couple of weeks to realize what the problem was.  At the same time, I wasn’t being very patient during those couple of weeks.  I wanted him to do it now, instead of realizing that it takes time and some failures before he will get it right.  I am happy to say that in the past 2 days he only missed the toilet a couple of times. (Yay!!)  Every day gets a little better!  And, hopefully, everyday I can learn how to make my home a safe house for my family.


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South America – Day 93

It is just after 6am on Monday morning, and Brody is laying in bed crying.  I want to see if he will go back to sleep, but I’m afraid he won’t.  Until just this week, we was sleeping until about 8:00.  I’m not sure what changed.  I think maybe he doesn’t feel good.  Aida has been doing well with her sleeping habits though.  I’ve decided that I need to forego the naps in the afternoon.  Maybe I should tell them that they have to go to the basement and play for at least an hour by themselves in the afternoon.  I like the quiet time, but I also like them to be tired at bedtime.  The afternoon naps seem to be making them want to stay awake longer in the evening.  If I had to choose, I choose and 8:00 bedtime with all kids asleep by 8:15. 

Ususally, I am of the opinion that the house is the most quiet in the morning, before the kids get up.  But for the last couple of days, it has been in the evening, after bedtime.  With no naps ( 😦 ) they seem to fall asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow.  And now, with Brody waking up early, its definitely bedtime that is the quietest.  Most nights I use that time to straighten up the house.  That is… unless Derick calls me.  He seems to call most often at bedtime.  And since its an hour later in Cuba, than it is here, it really should be his bedtime too. 

So, what to do with my mornings.  I’ve been trying to follow the routines on, although quite unsuccessfully.  I am getting into a routine… just not as good of a routine as I’d like to.  I seem to have a really hard time getting out of bed as early as I need to in order to go straight to the shower.  Flylady’s routine is to get up and make the bed as soon as you are out of it, then get dressed all the way down to your shoes and then start in on your day.  When I get up, I head straight for the coffee pot.  So, my routine usually involves getting up and making coffee, spending time in prayer, reading my Bible, or writing on my blog page, (sometimes a combination of the three.)  Then, if I have time, I take a shower before the kids wake up.  If not, I do it after Christian goes to school.  Then I start my day.  Today, it will probably be after Christian goes to school.  I forgot to set my alarm and I just happened to wake up at 5:45. 

I keep hearing on facebook about my friends that are doing all kinds of running.  I miss running.  I haven’t been running since I found out I was pregnant with Brody.  Derick and I started running a little bit together, a luxury that we don’t often get to indulge in.  But, then I got pregnant and immediately didn’t have the energy for that.  I should have just gone short distances to work at keeping in relatively good shape.  Now I am sooo out of shape.  I have been walking a couple of times since Derick left, but its just hard to get away sometimes.  When I do get a chance to get out, I want to just keep going.  It may sound torturous to some of my friends (family mostly) but I love it.  I can’t wait til Derick is home and we can run together.  I think I would like to work at running longer distances.  I’m not sure how far.  I’m not gonna say marathon distance or anything but maybe longer than the typical 5k run. 

I love to work out.  Of course, right now you would never know that by looking at me.  I know that most people’s lives are too busy to work out… they just have to make time to do it.  I should add that into my flylady morning routine… a little workout.  I’ve been thinking about moving Brody’s bed downstairs to the boys room.  Then I can get up and do whatever workout I want, in my bedroom, without worrying about waking anyone up.  He’s been sleeping all night for about 6 weeks now. (Praise the Lord!)  And he goes to bed at about the same time the others do.  Maybe I’ll put that on my to do list today.  My friend, Katie, is coming to help me, so I could have her work on that for me.  We’ve been working on getting a lot of things cleaned up and rearranged while Derick is gone.  My brother has been helping me with my blog page.  Maybe when we get it all done, I’ll post some pictures.

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