Mismatched Mess

of life, love, fashion, & forgetting to update


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Our New Three-Legged Kitten

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Last December we made a big decision to get our first cat. We’ve had hamsters and a gerbil before, but when we made the decision to move to the UK we thought a pet was out of the question. We are only here for a few short years, and while we are open to staying OR going back to America, our life, admittedly, isn’t stable right now.

So, this decision wasn’t an easy one to make. After a lot of discussing we knew that any pet wouldn’t just be a temporary thing. Whatever happens, wherever we go, our new cat will come with us.

davWe looked at several places in Canterbury, only halfway thinking of actually adopting a pet. I was very apprehensive of making a costly decision when we have an uncertain future. And then we were invited to a party. Our neighbors (who are also members of the church we attend) had just adopted two black kittens from Cats Protection. At the party they invited us to, the kittens were the center of attention, and it was hard to ignore our desires for a cat of our own.

davTaylor eventually found a little black cat by the name of Rufus, also from Cats Protection. He and his litter were found living underneath a caravan, which just so happened to fit the description of our neighbor’s new male kitten. They were brothers. Except, Rufus hadn’t stayed with his litter when they were rescued. He was put into a separate foster home because he only had three paws. Unfortunately, they suspect that a rat or other animal chewed his paw off when he was a newborn before his mother could stop them.

davThis kitten was the last of his litter to be adopted because of his paw. Even we were hesitant to choose him, not because we didn’t want him, but because our unknown future and lack of finances made us wonder if we were the right match. To change our mind, we had to change our perceptions. What does having a three legged cat look like? We began researching other cats with the same issue. We found videos of three and even two legged cats jumping, climbing and running.They were completely capable and we realized we wanted him.

davCats Protection put us through an application and a home inspection before we could even meet him. We passed their inspections, and our friend drove us to the foster parent’s home where we met a rambunctious and spoiled kitten who was more lively and friendly than we ever imagined him to be. We took him home that night. Our lives have brightened so much with this little guy.

His given name was Rufus, which was quite cute. In fact, I’m inclined to believe it’s a great name, considering it’s my grandfather’s name! Needless to say, out of respect, we decided to change it.

It actually took almost a month to decide, but we landed on Sabre. It has a special, funny meaning to us, but of course it can also be correlated to saber tooth tiger, lightsaber, and the sword. We like all these references, but its actual meaning is from our favorite tv show, The Office. Dunder Mifflin Paper Company is bought out by a company called Sabre. We love this show, can watch its episodes over and over again, and can quote about 75% of it. This was a perfect choice for us, short of just straight up calling him Dwight Schrute.

Unfortunately, in the coming months, Sabre will have to undergo a full leg amputation. His leg, of course, is continuing to grow. He has to carry the weight of it at all times, and it’s really sensitive. He’s very protective of it because an accidental hit, even if it’s small, hurts him. Cats Protection has offered to pay for any surgery and aftercare, which we are so grateful for. All our hesitations would have been proven correct, and we wouldn’t have been able to give him a home if not for this financial help.

sdrRight now, Sabre loves sleeping on my desk while I work. Between naps, he’ll bird watch from the window and spy on any cats who have wandered into our garden. In the mornings he prefers to wake Taylor up to feed him and then only really wants to ‘bug’ Taylor afterwards in hopes that he’ll wake up. He likes to follow us around and is almost never too far away. When we leave he sits in the bay window in the living room and watches the passersby on the street. He is even known to greet our neighbors when they wave to him.

We’re so happy we decided to get a pet. Life is never as settled as you’d like, and having him helps put that in perspective. Even though we may move after Taylor graduates, we are 100% set on-and thrilled that-we’re taking Sabre with us.


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To Live Forever

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“In every letter, in every line, she saw him. He hadn’t changed – he’d only grown into the man he’d meant to be.”

Diana Peterfreund, For Darkness Shows the Stars

“To my dearest….”

I read the faded script, ink dried on the page years ago, paper soft with age. Tucked between a loose brick on the bottom of the wall and a piece of driftwood, the letter seemed to have called for me to read its words.

My mind wanders through possibilities. Was the letter ever read? Was it laid here on purpose so many years ago? A secret hiding place between young lovers, a place to share their affection without being caught.

Did this letter fall from someone’s belongings? Perhaps the belongings of a mourning family, as they walked along this same pathway. Their husband, mother, brother…this letter a keepsake to that person, who kept it all these years.

I fold the yellowed page and return it to its envelope. Filled with possibilities and nostalgia, I daydream about the owner, wishing I could return it to its rightful place.

Part of me connects so deeply, I can’t even explain. I’m reminded of rifling through my grandparent’s memories. I’m reminded of reading the notes my parents wrote to each other. I’m reminded of the hundreds of small notes my husband and I wrote when we were younger.

I slip the letter in my purse, but thinking about it, I return it to its spot. Perhaps the letter will never be read again. Perhaps I was its first reader. There’s something beautiful about the mystery. That the words were even written at all provided a cathartic sense of love and purpose to the writer.

Beyond that, the story is unknown. But the writer’s appreciation for this mystery person will live on forever through his words. For what better way to live forever than by proof of deeds done from love?


This was part of the Writing 101’s Blogging University. Today’s Prompt: You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter. Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.


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I Was A Band Roadie

Modern Miracle Crammed in the third row of a vehicle hooked up to a trailer of music equipment, I rode the miles of open highway to our first destination. It was time to tour. Get out. Stretch. Divvy up hotel room beds. Then back in the third row, travelling to the gig.

It was usually a small church, or an outside venue. Sometimes we performed to a massive crowd, other times…not. Get out. Set up. Cables and guitars, drum kits and sound checks. And me. T-shirts and stickers, SD cards and tripods. I was a roadie. Girlfriend to a guitarist and absolutely crazy in love with this band.

When I became part of the Modern Miracle family, I was immediately enamored. The energy and excitement to hear their music, to see my boyfriend perform…I was inspired.

38102_412366495669_3548101_nRight out of high school with a new laptop and Photoshop Elements, just beginning my college courses on multimedia, I had the desire to create something beautiful for this band. I sat in my dorm room listening to their music on repeat attempting to create something that expressed the emotion of the lyrics. I don’t think I’d look back at my first attempts to use Photoshop without training and call it a masterpiece…but I learned to use it through my passion for this Christian band.

As my place in the family grew, I started photographing them in concerts and photo shoots. Then I started creating t-shirts and posters and banners. I became interested in re-designing their Myspace page. If anyone remembers, the classic Myspace had a lot of really great features, if you knew html. So I learned html. I spent hours perfecting their page, creating a beautiful aesthetic. I eventually began creating Myspace page layouts for several bands. I had, perhaps, a year of html experience under my belt before I first took a class on it. Through the beauty of music, I had come into my calling.

Modern Miracle

Modern Miracle was a constant source of inspiration for me. The lyrics were poetic stories ready to be unraveled, the music was a strong force to be reckoned with, the band members were a multi-talented family willing to do what it took to get their music out there. For me, the songs were worship. I felt connected to God by listening to them. And I knew my work was worship, too. I worked to create beautiful pieces of art and I worshiped God while doing it. By art, I mean Myspace layouts and t-shirt designs…but it was all for God.

Let our dancing feet set fire with the powers of your Holy Spirit.
We are anointing every word we say. Let it resonate.

I’ve never been so connected to music before or after this band. I appreciate music; the talent, the energy, the effort. There are a few bands I love. But there’s a difference.

With Modern Miracle, there was a raw passion that went straight through me. All the hours spent at band practices and concerts. The time forming bonds with each of them. The late night work sitting on my dorm bed creating. The connection my boyfriend (now husband–plot twist!) and I made when we talked about this group.

Seasons change, life happens. I wouldn’t trade anything to go back, but I do miss that time of my life. I miss the people, especially. Perhaps that’s what caused such an emotional response—having the band members there, laughing and joking; creating unique, original music. Music that held their talents and skill; their pain and joy. I didn’t just listen or watch, they didn’t just play and sing, we grew into who we are now…and we did it together.

Turn from the world. Double portion for shame.
Suffer your own cross for spiritual gain.


This was part of theWriting 101’s Blogging University. The prompt: Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you? – (No. hehe)
All photos by me. ‘Diamond Palace’ video credit to D2S Records. Quoted lyrics are from the videos that follow them. Listen to one more song they never got to record!


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Smelling the Tulips | Writing 101: Day Two

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‘They’re my favorite flower,’ I hear my grandmother say, as I gaze over the vast field of never-ending violet. Ripples of color sway lazily with the breeze and, breathing deeply, I’m transported back to my grandmother’s kitchen. The soft smell of tulips sitting on the kitchen counter next to the coffee pot as Elvis Presley sings hymns softly in the background. She liked listening to that CD in the morning. I make my way through the field taking photos I can’t wait to post, excitement I can’t wait to share.

The things that connect us. The purple tulips in May, on her birthday. The slightly burnt coffee every morning strictly at 7 am. The voice of Elvis Presley in the morning. Things that connect all of us. The entire family. I don’t have to explain my nostalgia for Betty Boop, because they have the same nostalgia. I don’t have to wait for the laugh track when I mention my appreciation of salt and pepper shaker collections because they appreciate them too. They get it.

mamawThis woman who lived a full life, filled with everything from a childhood in the country to one of glitz and glamour. She lived. Her feisty, talkative personality filled her house with laughter. Her love of collecting filled her home, literally. But it was beautiful. It was all beautiful. Specifically I’m not talking about her milk glass collection or china teacup sets. Or her extensive, beautiful gold and diamond jewelry, mostly rings. She treasured those rings and wore them, all at once, on special occasions. No, I mean sneaking in her wardrobe as a child and playing dress up in her 1970’s polyester nightgown-and-robe sets. I mean waiting until she went to the kitchen to slip into her storage room to gaze wide-eyed at her giant collection of Betty Boop coffee cups and dolls and shirts. Once I gave her an old life-sized cutout of Betty Boop. She displayed it in her living room for years.

Finished Painting of Baker Homestead

We were never incredibly close. Or, perhaps, we were. To be close to Mamaw, was to savor the small moments. To be present and willing to listen; to be patient and willing to wait. I wasn’t a good roommate. I wasn’t. After college, I was just grateful for a room in her home at all. I came home exhausted from work and shut myself in my room to decompress for hours. I couldn’t stand watching The Bachelorette with her–even ironically–so I left that to my cousin. I would snap back with an attitude after 30-too-many-times her telling me to not wash my dishes/clothes/self while she was watching her evening shows. She couldn’t hear them, otherwise. I was patient, but I still think about the times I was not. Of course, she had an attitude as well. The kind of attitude that comes with the privilege of aging and not caring at all if what she said offended. To be close to Mamaw was to not care if she did offend, because you knew she was just trying to tell her funny story for a good laugh. Or she was just trying to make sure her precious Betty Boop valuables weren’t broken by the hands of a curious child.

I drift in and out of these memories of my grandmother. Visiting the fields of tulips is like an amplified megaphone; each petal, each smell shouting a memory directly at me. The beauty of those flowers, stretched miles and miles and miles, is overwhelming and awe-inspiring. These fields connect me to my grandmother, they connect us all. They affect me like they affect my family. There is a beautiful trust in that. Even thousands of miles apart, I know I am not alone. Through a simple song by Elvis Presley, we can share a memory, a story, a laugh. Through a single tulip, we can ensure our family history will be remembered in the most beautiful way.

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This was part of the Writing 101’s Blogging University. The prompt: If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?

I’d love to visit Amsterdam during their tulip season for my grandmother! It’s on my Bucketlist, even. This spring I at least hope to visit one of England’s beautiful gardens.


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Postcard Collectors

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In Scotland we fell in love with several paintings at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Among many other artists, we were also able to see works by Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Monet. Not willing to spend too much money or sacrifice too much personal space on the train ride home, we decided to bring home post cards of our favorites as ‘souvenirs’. Then all of a sudden, we had a handful of postcards and a choice to stack them in a nice, neat pile on a shelf or display them somehow.  Display it is!

One of my very favorite wedding memorabilia were our RSVP postcards. We had our guests check yes or no (of course) and in turn write or draw messages of encouragement. I made all these into a cute book that I hope to always have with us.

427903_3741405863539_1404572106_nAnd I would love to add to our current postcard collection! If you have a hankering for snail mail, perhaps we could all be postcard pen pals? (Just let me know!) At any rate, I now have a fun wall of postcards with plans to expand as we continue to visit different places!

 


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Happy Valentine’s Day!

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I had the most fun making these little punny valentines cards! I wanted them cheesy, colorful, and to match a personality, interest or job description! Each card took about 5 minutes to make (not including the tiresome job of searching for puns!) I mailed these out a couple weeks ago and I hope everyone thought they were as great as I did!

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Valentine’s Things
Valentine Puns
Coworker Valentine

 


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I’m 25

24 was a great age for me.

23 was allowing negativity to build up all around and inside me. 23 was about realizing that mistakes were made. 23 was about learning lessons. So 24 was about embracing those lessons and changing my entire attitude.

At 24 I healed. At 24 I opened up. At 24 I stopped letting negativity decide my choices and started finding ways to produce positivity.

I learned that silence is wise, but responsible confrontation is healthy. I learned when to use either of these methods.

I learned a great deal from working with young girls; about how my actions and choices affect others and how I allow others’ actions to affect me. I learned that justifying wrong actions for wrong actions is life-draining. I learned that I had changed, not at my core, but just by opening up and allowing myself to grow into a better version of myself.

At 24 I learned to dance unexpectedly, be happy with being dorky, be healthy.

I learned to get rid of the ‘things’, learned what it means to leave everything and everyone behind, learned to not let fear stop me.

25 will be something else entirely. Mistakes will be made, like at 23. Personal growth will happen, like at 24. And we’ll see what else I can learn and see and do at 25.


Birthday Things
My Year of Adventure
25 Things To Do at 25

 


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Christmas in Canterbury

cc1Yet another holiday has come and gone in Canterbury, England.

We absolutely enjoyed ourselves by learning old English Christmas traditions and mixing them with our own. We missed our families but enjoyed many new things we’ll remember for years to come.

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We wanted to start by incorporating our traditions into our celebrations. My mom sent over a gingerbread house, which is a super fun Baker Cousin tradition. Usually it involves several small children and a table covered in icing. We also commemorated a Langford tradition with hot chocolate. At my dad and step mom’s house hot chocolate is handed out to all my brothers and sister filled with marshmallows. This year we added mulling spices and wine to our hot chocolate! Christmas eve was spent carrying out these traditions, watching Christmas movies and eating English mince pies and chocolate covered oranges.

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Christmas day wasn’t as exciting as spending it with family, but we made it enjoyable with more hot chocolate and opening some packages we received from family. Taylor and I also popped Christmas crackers, which is a very popular tradition in England. We then prepared for our Christmas lunch, which we reserved at La Trappiste. The food was delicious, although the meal lasted a very long time! We popped more crackers, ate several courses, played charades at our table and enjoyed live piano music.

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The day after Christmas, or in England, ‘boxing day’, was spent shopping at the massive Christmas sales, and going to the Marlowe Theatre to watch the pantomime, ‘Aladdin.’ It was a cute show!

We enjoyed our Christmas very much. Old and new traditions were made, making our first Christmas away from home lovely!

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Our First Thanksgiving in the UK

Taylor and I just spent our first major U.S. holiday away from home. Thanksgiving is a holiday we usually spend over-indulging in delicious food, and enjoying time with all our families. This was the first Thanksgiving  we weren’t able to do that and we had no clue how to celebrate!

Early on we decided to just make a simple ‘Thanksgiving’ pizza then see how the rest of the day unfolded. No fuss or stress about it.

I spent a good part of the day being thankful for our last Thanksgiving, which our family put together for us in September right before we left the U.S. My dad and stepmom’s house was decked out in Thanksgiving (and Halloween) decor, and they didn’t hold back on making it seem like a real Thanksgiving with ham, tons of dressing, sweet potatoes, broccoli salad (who knows what I’m missing!), and tons of pie. Taylor and I made lemon and pumpkin pie and I tried my hand at a U.K. ‘banoffee’ pie, made with bananas, caramel and marscarpone cheese. (It was a shot in the dark, and too sweet for my liking, but turns out nearly every restaurant here serves banoffee pie, so my pre-UK research hit the nail on the head!) We were so grateful for the efforts put into giving us an early Thanksgiving!

On the actual day of, we decided to go into the city centre and fulfill some ‘Thanksgiving wishes’, or rather– we had a determination to do some things we’d been putting off. I wanted to mail off some letters, so we stopped by the post office for the first time, and Taylor wanted to grab a latte from Pret a’ Mangier. The latte is called the Love Bar Latte, named after their Love Bar granola bar and is one of the most delicious smelling and tasting lattes you can get. This wouldn’t be a big deal if the only Pret coffee shop in our town didn’t close at 5:30, since we rarely visit the city centre during the day. While we were there we saw all their Christmas-themed sandwiches, and one fit our Thanksgiving-filled day perfectly, with turkey, cranberry and dressing.

Once we succeeded in our mission, we walked to Sainsbury’s grocery store to begin shopping for our Thanksgiving dinner. While we were shopping it was interesting to note how ‘irresponsible’ it was of us to shop for our Thanksgiving meal on the day of Thanksgiving. I have no doubt in America if we weren’t fighting the empty shelves of Thanksgiving ingredients long gone, then we’d be fighting the desperate crowd of people. And of course, here, the only thing we were fighting is actually finding the ingredients at all.

It took us a while, but we managed to find most of what we needed, even though they had no pumpkin pie filling or canned cranberries.

It was really fun cooking. In order to speed up the process we took several shortcuts, since all of this effort was just going to go on top of a pizza crust. However, it was really fun boiling our cranberries and creating cranberry sauce to our flavor preference. In lieu of pumpkin, I decided to chop up some apples and make homemade mini apple and orange zest pies. The pizza turned out delicious and we even had enough to make a second pizza for the day after (leftovers are the best part of Thanksgiving!)

Taylor was in charge of the entertainment, and tuned us in to the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 Thanksgiving marathon, which we watched late into the night since it was on U.S. time.

We really enjoyed our Thanksgiving. We missed our families, missed the great food, but I’m happy to see we made the most of it and had a great time!


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Vacation 2014

My husband and I just got back from a really fun two week vacation! It feels good to be home but that two week break to see family and do whatever was so appreciated. Now that we’re back in the swing of things it’s full on PREPARE mode.

Friday we opened a new bank account that will make the transition to international banking easier. Today my husband will be putting the deposit down on our hopefully future flat in England and tomorrow we’ll be traveling to Dallas to have our fingerprints and other biometrics taken as the final step of the Visa application.

We also just bought suitcases! They’re the largest suitcases either of us have ever bought in our lives, yet in comparison with all the possessions I was thinking of bringing for a 3+ year stay, they are small!

I’m excited where all this heading! Tentative kick off date is September 10th…ish…

I will continue updating the blog on the process. Until then, here’s what we did on vacation!

Vacation Day 1 – I ended up working half a day to finish as much as I could on my giant to-do list, but after that we headed to Deep Ellum (Dallas) to see Antemasque and Le Butcherettes in concert. It was amazing! Antemasque’s energy was totally thrilling and Le Butcherettes—a girl vocalist/guitarist and a girl drummer? Yes please!

After the show we were stopped on the street by a man who showed us magic tricks and sold us a couple of t-shirts out of his backpack for $5. Totally legit. We then couch-surfed on our good friend’s couch.

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Vacation Day 2 – We watched Guardians of the Galaxy with our friend then began the travel to Texarkana, TX to visit another friend. Taylor and he caught up and had deep philosophical discussions over Starbucks for several hours before we headed out for a late night trek to Hot Springs, AK.

Vacation Day 3 – Waking up in Hot Springs at the old Angels in the Park hotel, we walked downtown for late morning breakfast before we visited our favorite spots in downtown Hot Springs. Lunch was a flight of locally brewed beers and hummus and dinner was our favorite German restaurant.

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Vacation Day 4 – We packed up early and headed to a Starbucks–the problem with taking a vacation in the middle of searching for overseas apartments and applying for visas is that there was always an email that needed to be responded to immediately so we took frequent Starbucks (aka wifi) breaks. We then mailed our parents some postcards then began a long trip all the way to South Carolina where we stopped at 1:30 am for a few short hours of sleep. For a late night snack I couldn’t resist buying the Lays Cappuccino Chips and a Starbucks frappuccino at a gas staion. The chips were not all that people made them out to be and the drink tasted like a bad batch of barbeque! Gas stations are hard to trust.

Vacation Day 5 – Four hours of sleep at a hotel and McDonald’s breakfast later, we were on the road again a few hours from our destination in North Carolina. When we arrived I met Taylor’s grandmother, great-aunt, uncle, aunt and cousin for the very first time. We also hadn’t seen his mom in 4-5 years. That night we stayed in a beach house, looking at old photos and catching up.

Vacation Day 6 – We spent the day with Taylor’s mom, aunt and cousin at the beach then the evening with his grandmother and uncle. Afterwards we headed to Raleigh, NC where we met with Taylor’s step dad. They bought us a room in a downtown hotel, which led to a lot of walking through the beautiful downtown area the next day.

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Vacation Day 7 – Waking up with room service coffee (just because we could), we ventured onto the streets of downtown and ended up at the North Carolina Natural History Museum. We explored downtown (found a coffee shop, of course) and then met back up with Taylor’s family for dinner out and the a trip to Krispy Kreme donuts.

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Vacation Day 8 – We began the day by walking to a cupcake shop for coffee and cupcakes! It was accidental thanks to wrong GPS directions, but it was a good stop nonetheless. Afterward, we traveled to Durham to meet with theologian Dr. Stanley Hauerwaus. Taylor and I (more so Taylor) love his work and forward thinking methods. We met him at Duke University in his office where they chatted about the future. He encouraged us on our journey to England and took a photo with us! The rest of the day, not gonna lie, was spent at a mall. Taylor found several outfits at H&M and some shoes, which he needed. We ended the day driving back to our hotel in pouring rain and had pizza delivered to our room.

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Vacation Day 9 – We traveled to Benson, NC after waking up at 6 am where Taylor’s mom showed us every home and landmark that had anything to do with Taylor’s childhood. It was interesting seeing a part of Taylor’s past. After breakfast we were introduced to Taylor’s old baby sitter then carted off with tons of drinks and ice. We then began what end up being 24 hours straight of being up.

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Vacation Day 10 – 6 am after driving 15 hours home, we made our way to our beds where we didn’t wake up until 12:30 in the afternoon and it was devine.