Well, my plan to recap Iceland before classes started didn’t work out. Someday I’ll need something to do to avoid actual work and will get to it. It was such a great trip. I definitely want a written reminder.

Speaking of that – I went looking for whatever I had to say about plantar fasciitis back when I had that going on (5 years ago!) and whoa. I was crazy.

I don’t know how I got to this place where I’m happily maintaining my 110(ish) pound loss (with some fluctuation here and there, of course) – but I seem to be doing it without all of the drama I experienced as I lost it. I forget that this has been such a profound mindset shift and overall life change.

I think I’m actually making some progress with my 2014 goal to curb the body issues, too. It’s an ongoing practice, but I am intentionally working on it as I said I would and I think I actually have much more peace with my body than I’ve ever had. Most days.

Jon still has plantar fasciitis and hobbles around moaning about needing a wheelchair because it’s never going to go away. I apparently didn’t complain about it much when I had it (shocking), which is too bad since now I can’t remember how long I dealt with it. (And now we’re finally full circle to why I want to recap Iceland.)
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I’ve been in school for 2 weeks now. I don’t even know what to say except HOLY SHIT.

Let me just get this out of the way: I am VERY lucky to be in the position I’m in. I’ve received a tuition waiver and a stipend that amounts close enough to my previous salary that we haven’t had too much of a financial hit. I’ve been granted this financial assistance for several years – long enough to finish the program if I don’t procrastinate – so I’ll be ok. I love my classes. I love my professors. I have fantastic support from my previous employer and am excited to collaborate with them (they’re willing to share data with me, etc.) and am still happy that I’m working a couple of days a month. Overall – I couldn’t have dreamed up a better situation.

That said – again – HOLY SHIT.

I am already having dreams about going into tests and not having one clue what to write. I’m also already feeling perpetually behind. I’d forgotten what it’s like to try to watch tv with that nagging feeling that I should be working on something more important. Feeling like I need to vacuum just isn’t the same as feeling as if I WILL FAIL OMG THE WORLD WILL END if I don’t keep up with the reading I should be doing.

There are 5 of us in my cohort, so the group is working itself out. I had everyone over for dinner last week because I sensed super high anxiety and some homesickness (just 2 of us are from this general area). I remember what it felt like to go to a new school, new town, etc. and feel isolated and freaked out and as if EVERYTHING is new and challenging. It wasn’t fun at first. We’re an interesting mix of people with vastly different interests and goals and personalities, so we’ll see how it goes.

I’ve been pretty stressed as I adjust and I’m somewhat overwhelmed, but it will be fine.
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I had a birthday last week. 34.

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My mom (and her husband) and brother (and his girlfriend) came into town 2 weekends ago to celebrate.

Little brother!

Jon grilled hamburgers and made a bunch of junky stuff (at my request) and made a carrot cake AND surprised me with a little greenhouse.

(I haven’t had potato chips in so long – probably years? I had such great memories, but they reconfirmed that you just can’t go back. So salty and greasy.)
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Little greenhouse for my birthday!  #100happydays (60/100)

I’m not a super huge outdoor gardener (at all), but my house is full of plants. I’m excited to have a place to start (and keep) some new ones.

My only birthday request (other than the hamburgers/beans/chips/homemade potato salad meal) had been for him to take a day off and stay home with me – so he did that, too, and we spent my actual birthday just hanging out together. I didn’t feel like going out, so we had another junky feast at home.

Somebody's ready to eat.

I’m so lucky.

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So, yeah. 34.

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MC continues to grow despite my strong desire for that to stop.

Breakfast!

Looks like I'm not the only one happy Jon's back in our time zone. #100happydays  (67/100)

Squishy baby! #100happydays (62/100)

He’ll be two months old in a few days and I just can’t believe it.

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I’m still doing my thing with the trainer and still running since I rejoined the running group. I’ve been keeping up with the weekly plans and mostly going to the group runs – except this morning. I chose to stay home with Jon since I haven’t seen him in a week. I’ll make it up tomorrow.

It’s hot and humid as hell here, so I’m looking forward to a new season. I vastly prefer running (really walk/jogging) in cold weather.

Jon’s child #3 continues to breastfeed MC and has noticed that her diet might be impacting him, so she’s been interested in learning about nutrition. She’s actually eating my plain yogurt (with fruit and nuts) for breakfast now instead of pop-tarts, so things are definitely moving in the “right” (open to interpretation, of course) direction.

Jon’s been teaching her how to cook and she and I have been coordinating when he travels to throw together healthy meals. The upcoming plan is for her to cook dinner for all of us each night next week (after the three of us create a plan and grocery shop together). Total win/win.

I’m pretty impressed with this new desire of hers since it wasn’t so long ago that she was coming home from the grocery store with bags full of boxes of snack cakes and sugary cereal and other crap we never have in our house (or only have for pre-planned “treats”). Jon’s been talking to her about how to read food labels and it seems to be paying off.

Anyway. Two cooks in the house with a desire to do things my way means nothing but good things for me.

(Jon’s child #1 and child #3 and MC the day of my birthday feast)

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Almost forgot – Molly is a year old now! The vet estimates she was born last July or August.

Pretty sure she's a year old now since we estimate she was born in Jul or Aug 2013. She barks at everything and is a little too friendly when ppl come over, but I haven't gotten the baby gate out of the closet in weeks (meaning she can be trusted to roam

She’s come a long way in just the past couple of months regarding her behavior. She can be trusted to be out of her crate all day (when I’m home) without constant supervision – and I even put the baby gate away. She definitely does the bell thing completely consistently (rings it go out) and is already to the point where she stares at us at night when she wants in her crate because she’s tired.

She completely destroys her toys but has never destroyed anything else or chewed up any of our furniture or belongings or any of that drama.

This was purchased with great hope since it was labeled "indestructible."  I think she's had it an hour?

Feeling lucky I'm able to enjoy the fantastic weather today. #100happydays (56/100)

Our vet joked and said we should tell people we have a “miniature Great Pyrenees” since she’s small but looks like just a Great Pyrenees (with a haircut right now). She weighed 76 pounds the last time we checked, but would be 85-115 if she wasn’t likely mixed with something. She has a super friendly and outgoing personality (contrary to the more reserved nature of a Great Pyrenees), so we think she might be mixed with a lab or something like that.

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She is super sweet and extremely mild-mannered and keeps us entertained, for sure.

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She’s also scared of every little noise and/or rustle in bushes and nearly knocks me over when she jumps into me for protection – so she hasn’t quite realized her size yet.

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(I haven’t gotten around to finishing recapping Iceland – but I really want to do that because it was the best trip. My goal is to get that done before classes start in a couple of weeks. Fingers crossed.)

My mom and I talked about doing a mother/daughter trip for a long time before finally deciding to go for it this year. Neither of us had ever been on a cruise and we really didn’t know much about them, in general – so we decided to go for it and try something new.

We chose a short(ish) 4 night option in case we hated it. Booked on Carnival Ecstasy (out of Miami) with stops in Key West and Cozumel. It’s a smaller (and older) ship, which appealed to us since we were both a little apprehensive about being trapped on a boat with a bunch of people.

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My mom super generously picked a suite, so we had a pretty big room and balcony.

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Very basically, here was our schedule:

The first day/night on the boat (Monday) was spent checking in and traveling to Key West.

We arrived pretty early the next day (Tuesday), so we chose to eat breakfast in Key West – then rode the tour train around since we didn’t have much time. We were able to be off the ship from around 8AM to 1PM, I think. My mom mostly just wanted to be back in Key West to reminisce, which we accomplished. It was fairly emotional for me since I hadn’t been back since my step-father died and I went down to pack up my mom’s house and help her move back to TN.

Up and ready for this early AM arrival.

Fun morning, though.

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We made it to Cozumel the next afternoon (Wednesday). We were able to be off the ship from around 1:30PM to 9:30PM.

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We chose to do an “ancient culture” excursion that took us to the San Gervasio Mayan Ruins. The guide was great and the tour/excursion, in general, was fun – our time in Cozumel was just too short.

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The excursion included a stop at a beach for a short time (meaning 20 minutes).

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We walked around the port area and ate dinner before heading back for the night.

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We spent Thursday at sea. We wandered around the boat, saw a couple of shows, ate, took a nap, etc.

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It was a gorgeous day. (I have not altered the color in any way.)

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We woke up super early on Friday morning, disembarked and flew home.
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I’ve heard people rave about cruise food and somehow generally understand that it’s a thing. You eat well on cruises – and you eat a lot. I don’t know that I can say that I necessarily disagree with that, but I certainly don’t know that I’d rave about the food or the eating experience, either. Maybe it was just our cruise or what I chose to eat or maybe I’m a total food snob? It was good and they obviously do a great job feeding thousands of people at once, but the overall experience was just … ok.

Here’s what I ate:

The first lunch after checking in was a buffet situation. I got some stuff from the salad bar and then grabbed a few roasted vegetables and pieces of chicken. I’m not sure what the bread was. My mom and I got a plate of desserts to split and sample, too.

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We went to dinner that night in the Wind Star Dining Room, which is where we ate most meals (since we chose the option to eat at any time vs. designating a set time). As with each meal we had there, we could choose from a list of starters, main entrees and desserts. I almost always skipped the starter and stuck with the main course and dessert.

Dinner the first night was tilapia, carrots and a tiny dish of mac and cheese. I was pretty impressed with (and grateful for) the small/appropriately sized portions. For dessert, I had the chocolate melting cake that the people sitting next to us told me is famous, but apparently failed to take a picture.

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We ate breakfast the next morning in Key West. I had eggs and ham on a croissant (with hashbrowns). Poor choice. Not a fan of American cheese slices.

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We decided to order room service for lunch when we got back on the boat since we were both sort of tired and wanted to hang out on our own balcony where it was quiet.

I ordered a ham and cheese sandwich on rye with potato salad. We also asked for a “sample of cookies” and a piece of chocolate cake to split. It was all ok.

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Dinner that night was the “elegant evening.” No shorts. I chose chicken, broccoli and roasted vegetables (that turned out to be potatoes and sweet potatoes). Black Forest cake for dessert.

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I was pretty hungry on Wednesday morning, so I ordered a couple of things: oatmeal and a bagel with smoked salmon.

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Lunch was a salad with beef and a citrus dressing before we arrived in Cozumel.

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We ate dinner that night in Cozumel at an extremely loud and overpriced restaurant because it had wi-fi. The guacamole is deceiving. Flat plate.

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We ordered room service again on Thursday morning. Breakfast via room service was continental only, so I had another bagel with smoked salmon. We also asked for some croissants with orange marmalade, because I LOVE orange marmalade. It’s a vacation only treat, so I put it on everything when I travel.

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They had a “sea day brunch” on Thursday, so we went to that in the late afternoon after spending the morning doing a behind-the-scenes tour of the ship. I ate pancakes (with a side of corned beef hash) AND had banana cream pie as a dessert AND had a pastry of some sort that they brought to the table – and promptly fell into a sugar coma.

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I wanted a simpler dinner, but chose all 3 courses: mozz & tomatoes, roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and zucchini, Baked Alaska for dessert.

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We ordered room service again on Friday morning, mostly so I would have coffee before we left at 8AM. I had a bagel with smoked salmon again.

As I said earlier, we ate at the Wind Star Dining Room or ordered room service each time – which might have limited us somewhat – but those were really the only choices I liked. The other options were a buffet style bar & grill with standard burgers and chicken fingers and fries, a pizza & deli counter or a Mongolian Rotisserie Grill – all that always had super long lines and would have left us searching for a free table and wading through crowds.

I could have chosen healthier options sometimes (i.e., I can’t recall the last time I had pancakes and I certainly shouldn’t have consumed so many bagels). I also could have chosen not to eat the bread they brought to the table at each meal. Few of the desserts were fantastic enough to bother eating in full, but I ate them all anyway. Overall? I could have done better, but I could have done WAY, WAY worse.
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We saw two (music) shows – Motor City and The Brits!. Both were entertaining and worth taking the time to see. We also stopped in to watch the Love & Marriage show, which was sort of a newlywed game show thing.

The common areas look like a casino. I don’t know if that’s common on all ships or what?

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It has a small mini golf area and a water park.

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Also has an “adults only” spot.

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There’s a spa, gym and jogging path.

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We had some sort of fast track check-in because my mom booked a suite, so we got to skip the masses the first day.

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We did not have the same fortune getting off or back on in Key West or Cozumel – or disembarking. We waited in line FOREVER several times. While they do a fantastic job herding cattle – I’m not a fan of being such.

(So. Many. People. Everywhere.)

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I learned to say no to the photographers very quickly.

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I wasn’t happy that the wi-fi was so ridiculously priced that it just wasn’t worth it. I will never want to completely “unplug” and I’m ok with that. It would be one thing if it just wasn’t available – but it was. Just very costly.

Best part of the trip? The previously mentioned 3-hour behind-the-scenes tour of the ship. I was most interested in seeing the kitchen and how that operation works, so I was happy the head chef briefly spoke with us. Very interesting.
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Would I do it again? No.

Forgot yesterday because I was too busy being happy. This is what I would have posted. #100happydays (44/100)

It was very fun to be with my mom and I’m glad we did it, but it’s just not my way to travel.

The chaos and feeling as if I was being herded like cattle just wasn’t enjoyable. Sensory overload, for sure.

I wanted to see Cozumel, but instead I mostly just saw a highly commercialized port and the inside of a bus. I’m not even counting the experience as having “been to Cozumel.”

Carnival clearly does a very good job at what they do. Zero complaints about them. In fact, their staff, customer service and herding of cattle are all excellent.

I just don’t like crowds and chaos, don’t gamble, don’t drink, like to be free to do my own thing – and baking at the side of a pool is my version of hell – so maybe this just wasn’t for me?

Ok, so classes start in 2 weeks. How did THAT happen?!?

I’ve basically done nothing to prepare except RSVP for a reception that’s happening next week and put the orientation date on my calendar. I’m surprisingly relaxed about the whole thing.

I have no idea why I can’t seem to stop complicating my life or whether I’ll actually be able to DO IT (i.e., pass the classes, write something publishable, finish) – but I’m not super worked up over it for some reason. I’m sure it helps that I’m familiar with the school and with a lot of the faculty and staff. I also feel pretty sure that I’ll be fine – career-wise – if I totally fail since there are several paths I can take. I’ll just go back down the one I just veered from should this not work out.

Don’t get me wrong, failure is NOT an option. I just always like to have a back-up plan in mind when starting something new.
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The baby? Killing me with the cute and sweet and squishy.

I'll stop posting pics when he stops being so cute and sweet.  Mason, too.

Just love this baby and his silly faces.

He’s a month old now, which is crazy.

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I was gone for a week and came home to a baby, not an infant.

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He is so much fun. I know Jon’s child #3 will eventually want to move on with life and not live with us, but I can’t think about that now.

#faceoftheday #100happydays (49/100)

Just about everyone IRL has been asking if having MC around prompts me to want to have a baby of my own. I don’t really have an answer to that question except to say that it would take a LOT of work for us to have a biological baby (primarily because Jon had a vasectomy 20 years ago after his youngest child – #4 – was born) and I’ve never felt like dealing with it. MC hasn’t really changed that mindset much.

I’ve never had a strong desire to have a baby and have never wanted to be pregnant (and still have zero desire) … and I’ve been busy … and I’ve always felt pretty lucky to be married to someone who loves kids and is a great dad, but had kids before me … so there you go. I love babies and kids and people, in general – I’ve just never envisioned a life with children of my own. We briefly checked into adoption before MC came about and I guess that’s still on the table, but again – it’s a lot of work. Jon is totally on board with it and is seemingly somewhat more interested and less apprehensive, in general – so who knows where life will go?

Do I suddenly have baby fever? No.
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The week I was gone? On a cruise with my mom. I started recapping it here, but it became super long. I’ll do a separate post about that because I have a million pictures.

I totally packed running stuff, but never exercised once the entire week I was gone. In fact, I was starting to feel super antsy by the time I got off the boat because I was itching to do SOMETHING active.

I went straight from the cruise to Asheville, NC for a wedding, though, and spent the weekend there – and still didn’t exercise – though I walked a legit MILE in heels, which I NEVER wear, which should count as SOMETHING since I had to exert serious effort to walk and wound up with a blister.

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Got home late Sunday afternoon, so I guess I have no excuse for why I haven’t done anything at all this week – except I’m tired. I’m meeting a friend later to walk our dogs together and I have an appointment with the trainer tomorrow, so the week won’t be a total wash.

I have no idea what I weigh because I haven’t weighed myself in ages. My clothes all fit, though, and the dress I bought for the wedding? Size 8. I know I’m supposed to be all progressive and not care about that, but I do. Could have totally been vanity sizing, but I think it’s the first time I’ve bought a single digit size. (Maybe? I don’t recall having any other single digit sized clothing.)

I ate a ton of shit on the cruise and had some pretty decadent meals in Asheville. My stomach was killing me by Sunday afternoon, so I’m getting back on track. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to have yogurt for breakfast as I was on Monday morning.

Life is flying by at an alarming rate these days. I was worried about the time I’ve taken off between work and school and now I just want that time to SLOW DOWN.

As is typical, I would have no memory of the past two(ish) weeks if I didn’t have Flickr. So, here’s what’s been going on:

We thought Jon’s child #3 and MC (not what we call him, but works here) would be discharged from the hospital the morning after my last post. Unfortunately, MC was doing some gagging and choking that the doctors wanted to monitor for one more night. Jon and I stayed overnight to give her mother a break since she’d stayed the night before.

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I haven’t slept in an uncomfortable pull-out hospital chair since Jon’s cancer surgery – which I thought about all night.

It was freezing, so we dressed in layers. I woke up the next morning with a super sore throat that turned into a cold or sinus infection or something that lingered for the next week. It sucked.

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They discharged the next afternoon after waiting around forever.

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(For some reason, the waiting and the need to gain approval to leave from the hospital staff just irked me. I have a lot of patience in almost all arenas of life, but feeling trapped in a godforsaken hospital just pushes some buttons. Kept that to myself, of course, but damn. I’m irritated now just recalling it.)

Jon drove them to her mom’s house and dropped them off for the week and we went home and promptly sat on the couch for hours without moving. We were both totally exhausted from having spent nearly every moment of the long weekend at the hospital and we didn’t even have to do any of the work of producing a child.

OMG this baby. They visited a couple of times before coming home for good the weekend after he was born and each time they left we sat around talking about how we couldn’t wait for them to get back.

5 days old:

Not sure that I've ever met such a completely content baby.

Got in some good practice making faces tonight.

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They’re home!:

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Mason, day 11.

This baby.  (day 12)

Post-dinner walk. #100happydays

He’s just the cutest little thing ever.

Clearly the cutest baby ever.

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I could post pics all day.

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He apparently has something to say.  #faceoftheday

So sweet.

Other than loving on a baby, we’ve been cooking and have had friends over and I’ve been meeting Jon for lunch most days since I’m free, etc.

Repeat of last night for brunch. #starving #nevertooearlyforgreens #bringonthepie

All my mommyblog reading over the years paid off when I was able to introduce Jon’s child #3 to lactation cookies.

I now know more about lactation cookies than a non-lactating person should probably know, but any reason to bake cookies, right?  #100happydays (31/100).

I followed that up with learning how to make a pie. Blackberry!

Won't win any appearance awards, but I made my first pie today. Blackberry! #100happydays (34/100)

I worked a day (at my job). I’ve been working out with the trainer and doing the homework she assigns. I’ve also been trying to run here and there and have some idea that I might start training for a half marathon in October. I’ve done one week of Hal Higdon’s plan so far with the thought that I might keep up with that and re-join my running group when they start the fall session. We’ll see.

Taking advantage of the 64 degree morning. Might be enjoying this jobless situation a little more than I should.  #100happydays (32/100)

I completed my licensure application and am just waiting to hear back with approval so I can take the exam. (Took nearly 3 yrs to accomplish 3000 clinical hours + 100 supervision hours. I was SO anxious to send this packet.)

Took nearly 3 yrs to accomplish 3000 clinical hours + 100 supervision hours. Just have to wait for approval + an exam date. Almost there! #100happydays (30/100)

I checked in at the university and picked my office.

Claimed my office today. First come, first served re: the space and furniture, so being local paid off.  #100happydays (33/100)

Just loving life right now. All that stress about having nothing do? Completely gone.

Not feeling so great today, but that just means couch time with my favorite person (who may have begun to grow weary of my pic taking ways).  #100happydays

I’ve totally failed at keeping up with the Iceland recap, but I am committed to finishing. I love going back and looking at this stuff later – I’ve just been swamped since we got home and haven’t had the time to sit and focus on it. I’m now (mostly and temporarily) unemployed, though, and can add 10+ hours to my days for a little while. I don’t start the PhD program until mid-August and am staying at my job just one day every other week (essentially so I can continue working with a few long-term clients and because I love it too much to just outright leave) – so I will have time, I hope. Soon.

I intentionally gave myself this break between working my FT hectic job and the start of school, but I’ve been super stressed about it since I made the decision. I don’t handle boredom well. Love me some structure and routine and stress. I had a running list of projects and other things to accomplish (to fill up my time) until I decided that I need to take the month to learn how to just BE. To exist without pressure. To have nothing on a list for a day … or a week. I need to learn how to not be anxious over free fucking time. For real. So the list is gone.

(Though I haven’t quite been able to erase the backup one in my head.)

So the big news?

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Mason (middle name Cade) was born at 11:57pm on 7/3/14. 7 pounds, 10.8 ounces. 2 weeks early.

We had been on baby watch for a while because Jon’s child #3 had been slightly dilated for a couple of weeks and her doctor had been telling her she was ready to go – so his somewhat early arrival wasn’t a surprise.

7/3 was my last FT day of work and I had been joking for a while that she needed to hold him in until I finished everything I needed to finish … and she did. She was being admitted to the hospital as I was wrapping up and leaving my office for the day.

She had the easiest birth experience ever, I think. She arrived at a doctor appointment for a regular check-up that afternoon and was at 6cm and having contractions (that she was unaware of). The doctor told her to walk around for an hour and come back to be rechecked. At that point, they walked her over to the hospital and got her all checked in.

We hung out with her all night and she was fine. Didn’t even seem uncomfortable. I think we were all hoping for a 4th of July baby, but the nurse checked her around 11pm and said she was ready to push – surprising all of us – so they got that ball rolling.

She said exercise is harder than what she had to do that night. Said she’s felt worse pain. Said it was “easy.” She had an epidural, so I guess that plus her age plus the fact that she’s in pretty good physical shape just afforded her a really simple birth? I don’t know. Everyone was sort of surprised that she seemed so unaffected. I’m just very glad everything went well.

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He is seriously the cutest baby ever.

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Jon’s child #3 is doing SO well. Breastfeeding got off to a great start, too.

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There’s been much debate about what we’ll be called – and there’s a story to be told here – but we’ve decided on Poppy and Sassy. It has grown on me. I’m embracing the uniqueness of it.

I joked to Jon that he’s already looking the part (in this picture) …

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… though I still can’t quite believe he’s a GRANDFATHER.

They’re going to be spending the week with her mother before coming home and I’m already anxious for them to get here.

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Have I mentioned that we’re doing another round of whole 30 shenanigans? It was Jon’s idea this time following the debauchery of Iceland (and of life, in general, lately), so I’ve been doing it along with him.

It actually hasn’t been much of an issue this time around because I haven’t been logging anything or obsessing (which is ALWAYS the problem). I’ve just been eating. It’s really not that far from my typical way of doing things. I’ve eliminated dairy and rice and white potatoes and the random restaurant indulgences I enjoy a couple (or few) times a week.

We’re on day 21, I think. The only time I really struggled was yesterday when I very seriously wanted to inhale a pizza and came thisclose to ordering one on the way home from the hospital. We had been up all night the night before because of Mason’s birth and had only slept about 3-4 hours before going back to the hospital – and had then spent all day with them. We left the hospital close to 8PM last night and I was just dying. Exhausted. Starving. We got home and I ate nearly half a container of dried apricots while Jon quickly cooked dinner listening to me whine and bitch the whole way.

I’m in it for the long haul, though, I guess.

Exercise-wise – things are the same. I’ve attempted to run here and there, but I didn’t join the summer session of my running group because I’ve just had too much going on the past month. Also? It’s blazing hot.

Barely made it 2M w/out dying (88 degrees didn't help!), but survived my 1st attempt in a couple months. #100happydays

I’m still doing at least 2 strength training sessions each week, though. And the dog walking, of course.

Gym happy! So much more fun with a friend. #100happydays

I’ve had so much going on and so many changes happening at once that I’m trying to do whatever I can to keep the emotional demons at bay. Best course of action I know is good nutrition, exercise and sleep.

Day 1 in Iceland
Day 2

Day 3:

We woke up and had breakfast at Hótel Lækur.

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And headed out …

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Have I mentioned that we traveled the Ring Road (or Route 1)? It’s an 828 mile route around the island that connects most of the inhabited parts of the country. The highlands cover most of the interior of Iceland and are uninhabitable. The roads to/through the highlands were all closed when we were there since they’re only open late June – August. We didn’t have a 4WD drive, anyway, and were expressly forbidden from attempting any craziness and were given a map by the car rental people showing where we weren’t allowed to go – so we stuck with the Ring Road. Happily.

Our driving plan for the day:

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This was our longest drive of the trip – and likely the most scenic. I hesitate to say it was my favorite day, but I’m not sure why I feel that way. It was my favorite day.

As with day 2, I’m not sure that I have everything in perfect order, but I’m pretty sure this was our first stop:

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Eyjafjallajökull is the volcano that erupted in 2010 and caused air travel problems to/from Europe. We could see it from Hótel Lækur the night before – and it was super foggy since it was early morning – but we stopped, anyway, and took pictures.

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Shortly after that stop, we stumbled upon Skógafoss.

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We decided to climb the stairs to see what we’d see.

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Jon was willing to go all the way.

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I just wasn’t. Too high.

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This is where we temporarily lost our car keys and panicked.

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At some point, we stopped in a small town called Vík. It’s the southernmost village in Iceland with a population of just over 200 people. I didn’t know anything about it until we arrived there.

This is what I learned (via wikipedia): “Vík lies directly beneath the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, which itself is on top of the Katla volcano. Katla has not erupted since 1918, and this longer than typical repose period has led to speculation that an eruption may occur soon. An eruption of Katla could melt enough ice to trigger an enormous flash flood, potentially large enough to obliterate the entire town. The town’s church, located high on a hill, is believed to be the only building that would survive such a flood. Thus, the people of Vík practice periodic drills and are trained to rush to the church at the first sign of an eruption.”

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While we were in Vík, we stopped at a grocery store and picked up some stuff for lunch.

(banana, blueberries, turkey, yogurt, cottage cheese, a cheese and ham filled croissant and some cinnamon/chocolate cookies – we shared this stuff)
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Lunch happened a little while later at a beautiful spot we found as we drove. We were pretty much alone on the road by this point (as we were for most of the drive after day 1), so we just pulled over, rolled the windows down and ate.

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I gave up on my hair at some point. It was just too windy to care.

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We discovered throughout the day that the landscape (and weather) changed dramatically over and over.

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The lava fields were astonishing. I was completely fascinated.

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At some point, we found this:

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THEN, we found Jökulsárlón.

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I have never experienced anything like it. Ever.

It’s all – the whole day – really just indescribable.

We spent 8 hours traveling that day with all of the stops we made and the time we spent walking and gawking at stuff.

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Our stop for the night:

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Dinner was fantastic!

(Cauliflower soup)
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(Langoustine)
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(I chose vegetable lasagna.)
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(Jon chose the fish of the day – cod.)
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(Rhubarb pie for dessert.)
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I spent the evening reading and Jon spent it watching movies on his iPad. I had done very little (almost zero) reading about Iceland prior to the trip and hadn’t even really read anything about the stuff we’d be seeing since Icelandic Farm Holidays arranged our accommodations and gave us the driving route (for instance, I had no idea we had a 4 hour drive ahead of us that morning until the owner of Hótel Lækur asked where we were headed and told me about the distance). I was super interested to learn more at this point, though – especially about life, in general, and about social issues like homelessness, poverty, access to education, medical care and mental health services, etc. The most fascinating thing I learned? Their prisons? Only 1 (of 6) has a capacity over 25.

Anyway. I had some trouble sleeping that night but had a great time reading. Jon was generally able to sleep pretty well.

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Up next: my second favorite day of the trip.

We’re home!

Made it back around 11PM Thursday night and were both sound asleep at home by 12:30 after making it about 20 hours awake and traveling.

We spent yesterday (Friday) doing very little. I woke up around 6AM and couldn’t go back to sleep, so I got up and unpacked everything and generally got our lives back to normal. It rained while we were gone, so the floors were in great need of mopping (because of the dogs), so I dusted everything, swept, vacuumed and finally mopped.

(I’m sure I’ve mentioned that I’m super obsessive about cleanliness and organization … so uhhh … yeah. Awake at 6AM unpacking and cleaning. That’s kinda my thing. Makes me happy to have everything in order. Also, there’s just no way I could have sat on the couch all day in peace knowing suitcases weren’t put away and the floor was dirty.)

Anyway.

After that, we mostly just hung out at home having an Orange is the New Black marathon. We went out to lunch at some point and stopped at the grocery store on the way home for ice cream. Wound up finding a super sale on random, semi-old cut flowers (since I always browse them), which helped with the post-vacation dreariness I was feeling. Jon had a doctor appointment (just blood work for an upcoming oncology visit) and a hair cut scheduled, but I stayed on the couch while he did both.

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We’re doing more of the same today. I’m still feeling pretty wiped out from the trip and the party we had a couple of days prior to leaving and the chaos of getting both work and home stuff taken care of before disappearing for nearly 2 weeks, etc. My goal is to spend this weekend doing absolutely NOTHING.

(Except laundry and grocery shopping. And the dogs really need a bath. And I should probably attempt a short run or two. The necessities.)

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So, I left off with the day we made it to Reykjavik: Day 1.

The next morning, we got up and headed downstairs to wait for the rental car company to bring our car.

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Ate breakfast at the hotel buffet, too.

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We generally had no idea what was in store, but here was the plan for the first day “on the road” – Reykjavik to Hella:

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This part of the trip covered a portion of the Golden Circle route (“a popular tourist route in South Iceland, covering about 300 km looping from Reykjavík into central Iceland and back”) – so there was a lot to see. Also? A lot of tour buses.

I may have things out of order, but I’m pretty sure we stopped at Thingvellir National Park (where the Icelandic Parliament, Alþingi, was established in the year 930 AD) first.

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After that, we made it to Geysir and Strokkur (geysers).

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I know we made it to Gullfoss (waterfall), too, but I seem to have zero pictures – likely because it was super crowded and I was becoming super hungry. I seem to remember that we didn’t feel like dealing with all of the people to make it down the path to see it in full glory. We ate lunch at the Gullfoss Café (tourist/souvenir shop), though, because we weren’t sure we’d find much else once we left the area.

(Jon had lamb stew, I had tomato soup. We split a tomato/mozz/basil panini. Pretty good.)

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We did a bunch of driving to get to our hotel once we left the waterfall area and had FANTASTIC views.

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(This is Hekla – a volcano. First I’ve ever seen.) (From the windshield, so spots = bugs.)

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That night, we stayed at Hótel Lækur, just outside of Hella.

It was great. Super nice owner and staff. Beautiful location. Nice, clean room with a pleasant view (of horses!).

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Hekla was in the distance.

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As was this:

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Hótel Lækur has one seating for dinner each night with a set menu. Ours was fantastic.

(First course that night was leek pie and shrimp.)
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(Second course was chicken, sweet potato and zucchini.)
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(Favorite course was ice cream in little puff pastries.)
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After dinner, we just hung out together and walked around some since it was a gorgeous night.

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Definitely had many “can you believe this is really happening” moments. Seriously great first day on the road.

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Up next was our busiest day of the trip.

So, we left Reykjavik after I last posted and started our road trip around the country. I’ve been uploading tons of pictures (to Flickr), but have had no time to do anything else despite a strong desire to record the memories. Will get to a blow-by-blow when we get home.

For now, OMG. That’s all I can say. This place is stunning.

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All of this uninterrupted time together has made me ready to quit our jobs and do … something else.

We've been out looking for the Lagarfljót worm (http://www.icelandicroots.com/the-lake-monster-at-lagarfljot/), but apparently this won't be our claim to fame.

And the food? Excellent! I haven’t needed the snack bag at all.

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We’re headed N today and will be making our way around to Reykjavik by Wednesday night.

Here’s what we’ve done so far:

Day 1:

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Day 2:

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Day 3:

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We made it to Reykjavik!

We left Detroit yesterday afternoon and flew into LaGuardia. From there, we traveled to JFK, checked in for our next flight, dropped off our bags, hopped in a cab and went to dinner at a restaurant Jon found in Queens via yelp – Don Peppe. We had an 8 hour layover, so why not?

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The food was fantastic and the staff was exceptionally friendly and helpful. It was a great way to kill some time.

My goal is to take a selfie in every town we encounter for the next 9 days. Will Jon be able to bear the weight of my narcissism? Time will tell.

Our flight to Iceland left at 11:30PM EST and arrived here at 9AM local time. It was a 5 hour flight, so we both tried to sleep as much as we could to mimic a typical night. I generally don’t sleep on flights, but I was exhausted, so I slept a few hours.

We did something a little different this time around and booked some aspects of our trip with a travel agency – Icelandic Farm Holidays. This is what their website says:

Icelandic Farm Holidays is an award-winning, leading expert in rural Iceland with over 30 years of experience.

We offer a wide range of self-drive packages, guided tours and day tours all year round in addition to a vast accommodation network of bed and breakfasts, country hotels, self-catering cottages and apartments and traditional farms all around Iceland.

The Icelandic Farm Holidays Association was founded by farmers in 1980 and the travel agency by the same name is still majority-owned by the farmers themselves.

As an EarthCheck certified organisation, Icelandic Farm Holidays is committed to sustainable tourism.

We chose one of the self-drive tours. They have provided us with a basic route and some suggested things to do along the way and they have booked our accommodations for each night along the way. They also picked us up at the airport this morning and will be providing our rental car.

We can do whatever we want (completely on our own) – but they have provided lots of information.

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Today was spent in Reykjavik, so we were picked up at the airport and dropped off at our hotel (where we were able to check in despite it being just barely 10AM). We wanted to do nothing but shower and sleep, so that’s how we started our day. We wound up sleeping just an hour, though, so we wouldn’t screw up the entire day.

We ate lunch at the restaurant in our hotel when we woke up, which turned out to have a buffet.

(Me)
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(Jon)
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They had a bunch of gorgeous desserts out. I, of course, wanted to try every one of them – but I refrained from going too crazy. Jon and I each got some to sample.

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After lunch, we figured out how to take the bus into the city so we could walk around (and find a bank to exchange currency).

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It started pouring rain, so we just stayed on the bus as it made its way around and got to see a bunch of the area. I’m glad things worked out that way since it offered us a chance to see a lot of stuff we probably wouldn’t have bothered to see (i.e., residential/outlying areas).

We walked around a lot once it finally stopped raining and we were brave enough to get off the bus we were on.

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Stopped for coffee + beer + bathroom once.

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Stopped for dinner at Le Bistro. There were only a couple of other people there since it was fairly early, so we had a quiet dinner together (by a window on a busy street so we could people watch).

(Jon and I split a cheese board and beef bourguignon.)

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Beef bourguignon for dinner.

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We headed back to our hotel after dinner since we were both pretty exhausted. There was some minor confusion about what bus we were supposed to take (or rather, what direction) back – but it all worked out and we got on the right one.

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I was ready to sleep by 7PM, but we needed to kill time – awake – so we went back to the hotel restaurant for dessert and hung out for a while.

In my world, dessert happens at least twice a day on vacation.

It’s 10PM here now and I’ve been awake for some ungodly amount of hours and am delirious – but I think I’ve made it long enough and will able to get on track. Time to sleep.

Super fun first day.

It’s happening!

Adventure begins! Free flight situation means we're spending a day/night in Detroit (Ann Arbor!) and afternoon in NYC - as if those things are a hardship.

We have a sort of crazy situation before we actually get to Iceland since we booked via frequent flyer miles – but we’re on our way.

We’re currently at the tail end of a 22 hour layover in Detroit. We arrived at 2pm yesterday, so we rented a car and drove to Ann Arbor for the night. I haven’t been back since I graduated, so it was nice to reminisce. We drove past our apartment and walked around campus and walked around downtown, etc.

It was fun to sort of step back into this old life for a day. Drove by my apt, walked around campus, hit 3 restaurants in one night. About sums up my AA experience.

The weather was fantastic, so we had a great dinner outside.

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Jon was in the mood to drink, so we made it to a couple of different places to accomplish that …

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Fun night.

We woke up this morning and stopped for breakfast on the way to the airport. We’re now sitting and waiting to fly to LaGuardia.

One last feast before heading to the airport. Fantastic 22 hour layover.

We’ll have about 8 hours before we fly out of JFK to Iceland, so I suppose we’ll find something to do in NYC for a few hours since we have to leave one airport for another, anyway.

I am super excited about Iceland, of course, but have had a fantastic time in MI. I’m glad things worked out this way.

We’ve rented a car and will be driving around the Ring Road that travels around the island, but that’s our only plan for Iceland at this point.

A friend (who has been there) suggested that we bring some food, just in case – so I packed a small bag. I’m not sure what to expect food-wise, but there’s some idea that I might not be super thrilled with my choices since I don’t like lamb or some seafood (i.e., I don’t like lobster). Either way, I’m excited to see what we find and hope I don’t have to rely on (boring) granola bars and almond butter.

First time packing food for a trip. Trying to prevent total gluttony and/or the hangry.

I didn’t pack any running clothes, but I did pack my Garmin in case I decide to walk for miles on end, I guess. I haven’t been running much lately, anyway, and don’t see myself pushing it.

In other news … life has pretty much been the same. I’ve been doing the strength training thing a couple of times a week. Been skipping runs for reasons mostly unknown to me, but somewhat due to a perceived lack of time and shift in priority. I co-hosted an engagement party at my house on Sunday and had 55+ people show. It was awesome. I chopped off several inches of my hair.

Before:

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After:

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Still not totally sure how I feel about it since some of the layers are pretty aggressively short.

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Time to go!

Such a sweet face.

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