May 31, 2011

Making Memories

When I was a little girl, we spent most of our weekends on the lake.  We had a small boat and my parents taught us to ski and love the water.  We spent the evenings curled up next to each other in our sleeping bags on the floor of our tent. 

My mom was the brains behind putting up the tent and my dad was the brains behind the nightly ghost stories. Oddly, every one of those ghost stories involved raccoons that would jump out of the bushes at people while my dad would grab at my brother and me and scare us to death.

We spent many an hour riding our bikes around the campground and floating on rafts on the calm water.  Mom and Dad would spend hours playing Rook around the picnic table by the lantern light with whatever friends we brought to the lake with us.  Those memories of camping are some of the happiest memories I have of my childhood. They are so innocent and pure and fun.

I always knew that when I had children of my own, I wanted camping to be a part of our lives.  The idea of camping with babies never appealed to me, so we waited a few years to start this new tradition with our family.  This Christmas we decided that our family was ready for a camping adventure.  We were gifted a new tent and this weekend we tested it out for the first time!  We tried to keep it close to home (camping on my dad's farm!) in case our kids weren't true outdoorsmen.  Plus- I like to be close to a bathroom :-)

We packed up most everything that we own in the back of my van and headed out to the farm.  Sadie took a friend with us and the four little kids were so excited they could hardly stand it.  As we were packing up the car, the hubs remembered that we hadn't asked a neighbor to let our dog out for us.  I'm not sure what came over me, but I said, "Just put her in the truck and we'll take her with us." (As a reminder, our dog, Emma, is a huge ball of stinky, mental illnesses.  She is very, very sweet but is dumb as a rock.)

So two grown ups, four kids and one stinky dog headed for the country.  We set up the tent, started the fire (okay- Papaw Johnny started the fire) and cooked some hot dogs.

This tiny 22 pound little boy ate three hot dogs.  Blows my mind.
We rode all over the farm in the four wheeler, played in the creek and were joined on a hike by my grandmother.  How lucky are my kids to get to go on hikes with their great-grandmother?  It is surely one of God's greatest blessings.

Miles and my Mamaw Daisy

Hubba Hubba

$10 to anyone who can find the kids in the forest

The beast loves the creek.  This is what dog heaven must be like.

Then it was time for the very best part of camping.  S'MORES!

Then came bedtime. Hubby succeeded in scaring the children to death by telling them a story about a man who had his toes cut off by a bear trap and he roamed the woods looking for his lost toes.  The kids were glued on his every word that he was making up as he went along.  Sadie then decided that she wanted to tell a ghost story but couldn't come up with anything very scary to say.

Bless her heart- she tried, though.  The kids got themselves all in a panic after ghost stories and thinking about severed toes, so we toned down the mood by reading a few chapters of Charlotte's Web by the glow of a flashlight.  It was such a wonderful moment- reading one of my favorite childhood books curled up in the tent surrounding by darling little children.  Pure bliss.  The children all fell asleep right after the story and Kamron and I laid there next to each other and stared out the windows of the tent at the endless expanse of stars.  I ruined the moment by having to pee.  I have not tried to go to the bathroom in the great outdoors since I had an unfortunate accident involving me peeing all over my footed pajamas on a camping trip around age 10.  I grabbed my flashlight and the roll of tp and headed out of the tent.  I got out there, pulled down my shorts and just could not figure out what position to get it to avoid peeing on my shorts.  So I figured I should just take them all the way off.  As I stood there bare butted trying to hold the flashlight, my clothes, the toilet paper and keep my balance so I didn't fall in my puddle, I couldn't help but crack the heck up. I told Kamron that I couldn't figure out what to do and he so promptly reminded me that when I don't know what to do, I always just take my clothes off.  We had a great laugh over it.  

The littlest Terry was snoring like a 400 pound man and so we knew we wouldn't soon be able to go to bed.  Tis the one drawback of all sleeping in the same small area.  Kamron pulled out his iPod and put together a playlist that would put a Time Life 80's Power Ballads compilation to shame.  We had such a great time laying side by side, each of us with one ear bud in listening to the same great songs.  Holding hands in the dark, listening to classic Led Zeppelin with all the tiny ones sleeping soundly around us- ahhhh- all was right in the world. 

Morning came all to early.  Some people wake up happier than others...

Our first camping adventure was a HUGE success!  It was such a great time of togetherness and memory making.  We are excitedly counting down the days until our next big campout!

May 24, 2011

For the Claire Dunphy's and not the Claire Huxtable's

Do you ever just feel so inadequate? Sometimes I look around my life and I wonder what in the world I did to deserve such goodness. And in the next instant I'm crying out in exhaustion and exasperation going, "What in the world did I ever do to deserve this?"

Mothering is not for the weak and a lot of the time, I'm feeling weak. Marriage is not for the weak and sometimes I'm feeling like I've been hit by a bus. I'm pretty sure that I'm normal but the ebb and flow of life and it's so many vacillating emotions sometimes just leaves me feeling depleted.

I came home from the summit on top of my therapeutic parenting game after sitting in on parenting workshops aimed at helping kids from hurt places. I was on it. I was attentive. I was seeing the emotions behind the behavior. I was giving my child healing words. I was parenting with grace and love and compassion and consistency. And yet, I still got smacked in the face (literally) by my child in front of a room full of "perfect" acting mothers who just looked at me in horror. I got angry. I wondered why I even tried. I've been blamed for my adopted child's behavior more times that I can count by people who like to flaunt their perfect children. I know that I didn't cause this (duh, it's two years in an institution!), but those words sting every time. I've been criticized for speaking out about the emotional toll that adoption has taken on our child and on the rest of our family because this is what we signed up for. People would never in a million years say that to a mother watching her child go through a terrible physical illness but for some reason with adoptive families and mental illness in our children, it's always open season. It hurts every single time.

I'm the mom who forgets to take snacks to the soccer game and the mom who forgets to send in a toy on toy day at school and all other matter of things that make my kids feel crummy. I'm the mom who looks at the floor with last nights dinner all over it where the kids dropped it and thinks, "I signed up to be a stay at home mom. Not a maid." I always envisioned myself spending hours reading books with my kids and making healthy lunches to send to school and doing craft projects all the time and somehow, after life has pulled me in all it's other directions, those other things just don't get done. And they are the ones that are most important.

I've talked to tons of elementary school students about what their lives would be like if they were children growing up in a third world country. I've talked with them about how many hours of their day would be spent just fetching water and firewood. It always blows their minds. I feel like in my life I could just replace firewood and water with keeping clothes clean and getting meals on the table and my mind would also be sufficiently blown.

I love being a stay-at-home mom. I love being able to make the field trips and being available to do all the required therapies with my boys. I love being home when my child gets off the bus and having dinner ready when my husband gets home from work. But that doesn't mean I love it every minute of every day. I feel like the double standard is high. If someone complains about their job, every one nods their heads and says, "Oh yeah. I get it." But if a mother complains even one iota- the wrath of the world comes down on her and everyone says "How dare she say one word against caring for those precious children." I feel like we still live in this culture where our grandmothers will say, "Raising kids is so hard!" but the women who are actually raising kids will spend ridiculous amounts of time trying to one up each other on the "I'm a better mother than you scale." People. Can't we all agree that no body's kids are perfect and that yes, it is hard and that's okay?!
Yes, sometimes being a mom is seeing your kid block a ball from getting inside the goal and watching his whole body fill up with pride at his accomplishment. Sometimes it's seeing them ace math tests. Sometimes it's seeing them mother their baby dolls with such compassion that you feel like you must have done something right. And sometimes it's getting smacked in the face and feeling inadequate and defeated and that's okay.
So here's to all the other women out there like me who are more Claire Dunphy than Claire Huxtable. You are good enough. You may not ever win a parenting award or be PTA president- but dammit, you are running the race. And even though your boobs are flopping and you are sweating like a pig, you are still doing it. Day after day. And in my book that constitutes the ideal perfect mom.

May 18, 2011

Ants, Bubble Gum and Diapers to the Face

I know that summer is coming.  I feel it in my very core.  I'm looking forward to it like nobody's business.  I know all kinds of parents that flip out when the kids are home from school.  But my easiest kid is the only one in school right now and so it will be nice to have her home!  Plus- let's face it.  Homework is really just a means to aggravate and torture parents and so I'm looking forward to letting that routine go for a while. 

Here are a few ways that I know that summer is coming:

1.  Ants.  Every May we get an infestation of these teeny tiny neary microscopic ants.  No amount of exterminating or spraying gets rid of them.  I keep praying that they will make themselves useful and band together and pick me up and carry me to the Bahamas but that has yet to happen.    

2.  There were three wads of gooey bubble gum in my bathtub this week. If it were winter, they'd be frozen bubble gum wads because it gets cold in the bathroom in the winter!  Just ask a butt that has had the privelege of sitting on the cold porcelain.  Bubble gum priveledges have been revoked but somehow I still keep finding it.  No one will fess up to it. If the kids were smart, they'd blame it on the ants.

3.  I shed actual tears at the thought of bathing suit season.  With DVR, I've missed all the get thin quick in time for summer ads on tv and so it snuck up on me.  I am declaring this year the year to lay around in a moo moo by the pool.

4. The changes in weather have caused my kid with frequent nosebleeds to have even more nosebleeds. Yesterday, I was totally unprepared with the tissues in the car and shoved a diaper on the child's face to stop the bleeding. Child was mortified. Mom scores a point for practical embarrassment.

5.  My favorite pair of sweats have sprung a hole in the crotch.  It is nature's way of telling me it's time to trade them in for cut off sweatpants shorts.


May 17, 2011


A little replay of one of last year's favorite posts...

Pink Donuts, English Lessons, and Jail Time

My children have had their share of moments lately. Last week my six year old found a button I picked up at the BlogHer conference this year. I came home with a mirage of buttons, but she happened to seek out the one with a picture of a big, happy cervix on it. Yes, you read that right- a cervix. It was for HVP awareness and said in big letters "SAVE THE HOOCH". 

Girlfriend wore that hooch button proudly at school and who knows where else until I realized that she had it on. I am all for her knowing how to take care of her "hooch", but really, the button kind of weirded me out on a girl that young. Plus- she thought the cervix was really a pink donut. I'm sorry- if you aren't old enough to distinguish a cervix from a donut, then you probably aren't old enough to sport a "Save the Hooch" button in the first place. Somehow, though, no one seemed to notice that she even had it on. Or maybe, they too, just thought it was a pink donut.

Which brings us to Miles. Miles has had so many ear problems that he can't very well distinguish high and low range sounds. It is making learning English a little on the difficult side because he doesn't hear what we are saying the way it is supposed to sound. Therefore, he repeats words like they sound to him. As part of his speech therapy we are trying to help him learn to label things by saying them over and over again and trying to make him associate words with their meanings. The other day we worked on body parts for what seemed like forever. Our day sounded a little something like this:

Me: (while flapping my arms wildly) Miles! These are your arms! Say "ARMS!"

Miles: Ass.

Me: Close. ARMS!

Miles: Ass.

Me: Arrrrrrms. Hear that rrrrrr sound? Try again. Arrrrrrrms.

Miles: rrrrrrr...Ass

We go in circles like this for a long time...

Me: Okay- lets try another. FEET! ( I wiggle my feet like a nut) Can you say,'FEET'?

Miles: B!tch

Me: No Feet. Fu Fu Fu Feet!

Miles: B!tch

Me: (getting louder- for some dumb reason thinking that will all of a sudden make him understand) FEET!! FEET!!

Miles: (also getting louder) B!TCH, B!TCH!

And then we go in circles like that for a long time. I am thinking that I will hold off on teaching him "fork". Hopefully, my child will stop cussing like a sailor when he gets tubes in his ears and can hear what we are saying. Amazingly , though, he has the phrase "big butt" down pat. He says that one with stunning clarity. It is his only two word phrase. Go figure.

And not to be outdone by his brother and sister, we have Noah. Noah- oh, sweet Noah- gets out of the car in the dropoff line at preschool yesterday and turns and says loudly as he's going in the door, "Bye Mom! I'll see you when you get back from jail!"

WTF? Or should I say, "What the fork?" as I die of embarrassment. By the way- I went to Walmart- so maybe he wasn't all that inaccurate!

May 16, 2011


In case it isn't obvious, I'm having a hard time blogging lately!  Sometimes as moms- our time is all consumed with running a family and our time to actually create something to put out into the world takes a backseat.  One little has a double ear infection and all three have just needed lots of cuddling as a result of mommy being at the Orphan Summit for a couple of days last week.

So- the Orphan Summit.  Holy moly!  It was amazing.  Actually- amazing doesn't even begin to describe it.  There is just something about being surrounded by like minded individuals who all have a passion for improving the lives of orphans all over the world.  I learned a lot, cried a lot, met lots of super cool people, and came home with a renewed purpose.  I'm not sure what carrying out that purpose is going to look like, but my cage has been rattled in a big way and I'm excited about all of the possibilities. 

I'll be blogging about lots of the things that I learned in the weeks to come.  I sat in on two seminars by Karyn Purvis (attachment and trauma guru) that absolutely have changed my life and the way that I relate to my kiddo from a hard place. I watched a panel of adult adoptees talk about what it means to be adopted into family of another race and how that played out in their lives.  I soaked it all in as they gave their best advice to parents.  I was mesmorized listening to Brian Fikkert (author of Helping Without Hurting) as he talked about the do's and don'ts of helping to alleviate poverty without hurting the people you are trying to serve. It was standing room only to hear Carolyn Twietmeyer from Project Hopeful talk about the role of advocates and adoptive families for the HIV+ orphan.

I got to speak as part of a panel on how busy moms can be advocates.  I was blown away by the hearts and passion of the women who were on the panel with me. 

I looked around the rooms and saw people who had fostered dozens and dozens of children.  I saw parents who have adopted children that no one else would have taken a chance on.  I saw people who were changing communities all over the world and giving those in extreme poverty a hand up.  It was truly inspiring. 

I've got a lot of processing to do before I even begin to blog about the sessions!  In the mean time, I may just keep snuggling with the wild ones that I've been entrusted with.  It's kind of been nice to just take a little time off to watch the Justin Beiber movie 3 times in two days with my daughter.  And play a gobzillion rounds of Candy Land with the boys.  And play words with friends with my peeps.  And not get out of my pj's.  And bounce ideas around with my husband about our future.   So my email inbox and my house look like a trash heap, but who cares?!  (well... actually, I care, but I'm trying hard not too!)

If you'd like to see what other bloggers are saying about the orphan summit in the meantime while I get my act together, you can check out the alliance blog HERE.

May 10, 2011

How does your garden grow?

The powers that be have finally decided that we have had a sufficient amount of rain this spring and lo and behold the sun has been out for a few days!  We took full advantage and decided that it was time to plant the packages of sunflower seeds that we've been waiting for weeks to put in the earth.

Sadie organized the troops and taught the boys how to drop the seeds in and cover them over with dirt.

Even Miles tried to get in on the sunflower planting action.  However, the sight of a tiny worm sent him running for the hills while he screamed "SNAKE!"
 He decided that it was a lot more fun to try to fill up his whole head of hair with dandelion fuzzies.

They all came back together to water their garden- fireman style...

...and pose in front of their hard work which will hopefully be covered in sunflowers by the end of the summer.

Ahhh... these are the days...

And just a few more cute snaps from the last couple of weeks...

Mother's Day 2011

May 09, 2011

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

I can call you or text you to tell you about what a wonderful mom you are, but there is just something that makes it even more true when I shout it out to the world.

We started off rocky.  You were just a baby with a baby.  I'm sure that you had dreams for yourself that never included having a baby or a husband at such a young age, but you never complained about it.  You just did it.  I know that we didn't have a lot when I was little.  I have heard you tell me the stories about Granny taking us to buy shoes and winter coats- but I never felt like we wanted for anything.  We had fun.  We played.  We read books.  We built memories.  You made sure that we did all the things that mattered. 

You sat through endless days at swim meets.  I know that you often sacrificed and spent money that we didn't have so that we could do things like be on the swim team and go on team trips.  I didn't appreciate it then, but I do now.  I know it wasn't easy.  But you made the sacrifices with grace.

You never let on when times got tough.  You spared me the angst and let me have a happy childhood.  But you also instilled in me a sense that life is not always easy.  You taught me the value of money and hard work.  You never did and still never do anything half way. 

Then there were the teenage years.  I was horrible to you.  I didn't respect you.  I yelled really mean things at you on a daily basis.  You warned me when I dated boys that were bad for me and I ignored you.  And yet- you kept loving me even when I'm sure that my very presence made your blood boil. That right there has taught me what being a mother is all about. 

When I went off to college there was such a palpable shift in our relationship.  You raised me to be a strong, independent woman- and we both know that two of those can not live under the same roof!  College was the beginning of you becoming the one person I called everyday.  The one person whose opinion mattered to me more than anyone else's.  Like a good mom- you gave me roots and wings.

I think more than anything, I saw the person that you were meant to be when you made the decision to go to college when all your kids were out of the house.  Woman- that took guts!  You went through things during that time in college that would have made other people crumble- and somehow you still made all A's.  I am so proud of you.  You are a great nurse and for the first time in your life, you were the confident woman that you deserve to be: one who knows her worth and doesn't put up with people who don't value you and what you bring to the table.  Mom, I can't tell you how happy I am that you married someone who makes you happy and respects you and loves you like you deserve to be loved.

I love that now that I have children of my own, I can call you when I'm having a hard day with my kids and say, "I want to run away. Did you ever want to just run away?"  And you say, "Everyday."  And I feel like we are a team.  You get it.  You don't judge me.  You let me be me.  I let you be you and we revel in each other's happiness.  It is fantastic.

Add to that that you are one hot mama.  Yes, I've endured years and years of people saying that we look more like sisters than mother and daughter, but it's okay.  It gives me hope that I will age well ;-)  Not to mention that your sense of humor has only gotten funnier and funnier as it ripens!  You are like a fine wine, my dear.  (Just over look the fact that you know I don't like wine- you get the point!) Edited in 2015 to add:  Now I love wine.  Replace my blood with wine and we are good to go.  I also get this from my mother.

So here, on the 20th anniversary of your 29th birthday, I just want you to know that I love you and respect you and treasure you.  I recognize all of the sacrifices that you've made in your life to help me be who I am and I am grateful.  I'm so lucky that not only do I get to call you mom, but I get to call you  my best friend as well.

Happy Birthday, Mom!  You deserve all the happiness that the world has in store for you!


You and me on my first birthday! Didn't I catch my hair on fire right after this?
You looking like a John Deere tractor and me dressed like a pioneer (as usual). 

Rockin' the huge fashion don't as a duo!  I may have been daddy's girl, but I always did want to be like my mom!

Sometime in the late 90's.

After becoming a mom myself, perspective is everything.  Hello new BFF.

My favorite full circle moment in  life- getting to be the matron of honor at your wedding.

I love you Mom!  Happy birthday!

May 06, 2011

Bulleted Blogging

*Since the last post, I have gotten no less than three billion emails from people who also hate their uterus.  To me, it is HI-larious.  They typically start out... "You don't know me, but I also want to break up with my uterus"... then they go on to give advice and describe fabulous hysterectomies.  Y'all have some great medical advice when it comes to one's girly bits.  I'm wondering, can one sell a faulty uterus and cysty ovaries on the black market?  I'm putting that one on my agenda of things to figure out today.

*My daughter's class had a slew of Derby festivities today.  Around these parts, the Kentucky Derby is about as big of a deal as the second coming of Christ.  Sadie was named the Derby Princess.  I'm not exactly sure what that means.  I think it is a fancy title for "girl in the class who is a teacher's pet and gets to wear a paper crown." 

*One of the Derby activities was a family picnic, so I loaded up the boys and we took our lunch to school to eat with our newly crowned princess.  We were quickly joined by a whole gaggle of  little girls who kept me in stitches the whole time.  One little girl that I've never met came and sat next to me with her lunch. Her opening line was, "You need to know this.  Michael Jackson is NOT dead. He is just walking around in disguises.  One of them is a blond wig."  I'm just envisioning the conversations that must go one at that girl's house around her dinner table.

*I also kept tabs on the boy that I've picked out for Sadie to marry when she is older.  This little boy is the cutest thing since X-Men underoos.  He calls me ma'am just like a perfect little southern gentleman and hugs me every time he sees me at school. I joked with his mother last year about how I wanted to arrange a marriage and she looked at me like I had three heads.  I couldn't figure out if it was because she didn't want her African American son to marry a white girl or if she didn't want her little boy to have such a whackadoo for a mother in law.  I'm guessing it's the latter.

*Miles choked on some chex mix the other day and while he was sputtering and trying to catch his breath, Noah started screaming, "STOP, DROP AND ROLL!"  Wrong emergency, buddy.  But good try.

*I've worn the same outfit for the last 6 days.  I've washed it, but I just can't muster up the energy to put together another look that doesn't involve pajamas.  I need an intervention. 

*Something in my sink smells bad, but rather than just wash the dishes I keep running the water and turning on the disposal hoping it will just grind up and eat the stench.  So far it hasn't worked.  Candles are my next fix cause God knows I'm not going to actually just wash the flippin' dishes. 

*Must. Make. Self. Go. Do. Something. Productive. Like make my boys go put on some underwear.  They are running around nekkid threatening to pee on things.  Is it the weekend yet?

May 04, 2011

Feeling Funky

I'm just gonna say it.  I am in a serious funk.  About 2 weeks ago I said that my thirties were going to rock- but I totally take it all back.

So far, thirty has been crappy.  In fact, I feel like I've spent pretty much all of my thirties up in stirrups (boys, you can stop reading).  Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad pain for weeks and weeks on end landed me in the office of my GYN who promptly told me that all of my symptoms and the results of my manual exam pointed to *gulp* ovarian or uterine cancer.  Then I had to wait 5 days with that hanging over my head to get an ultrasound.  And not the good kind of ultrasound where they scream out, it's a girl!  The one where they pull out "the wand".  Oh girls- you know the one I'm talking about.  The awkward wand up the hoo-ha ultrasound that makes you stare up at the ceiling tiles and feel like you are "getting got" by an alien. Gotta love those.  *sigh*

Then it was 2 and a half more days of waiting to hear that (praise God!) there are no tumors or signs of cancer- just a zillion cysts all over the place and that perhaps I should begin to think about exploratory surgery to look for endometriosis.  Y'all- I am totally ready to say goodbye to this uterus. I'm done with it anyways so it would be a great time for us to part ways.  I would probably give it the "it's not you, it's me speech" and then walk away from her with no regrets. 

So- my days have pretty much consisted of laying on the couch with a heating pad, neglecting all the things that I should be doing because, as I said,  I am in a FUNK.

I'm tired and my mind is going a million places.  I've got friends that are hurting.  I've got a son who is riding the up and down attachment disorder wave like a professional and that is just a wee bit exhausting.  There are derby float projects to be done and well- I'm not that crafty and my hot glue gun is not my friend. It has rained in Kentucky every day for the last eleventeen days.  My kiddo tested in the 5th percentile on some developemental tests and while I'm glad that will hopefully qualify him for preschool services, dude- 5th percentile is not really something to make a bumper sticker about. Yep, I'm a first class Debbie Downer.  Anyone want me to be a guest at their dinner party?  Didn't think so!

Life goes in cycles and right now I am in a "spin my wheels and rip my uterus out cycle".  Hopefully the next cycle will be the "drop 40 pounds and mysteriously end up in the Carribean" cycle.  Hey, a girl can dream right!?          

May 03, 2011

Adoption Fundraiser Linkup!

Y'all, I'm an adoption fundraiser t-shirt junkie.  I am.  I can't help it.  I love the message that adoption t's put out into the world.  And every time I put one on I think about the little miracle that it helped bring home.  I've got an adoption fundraiser t-shirt from just about every country, color, and design and well- I just get pumped every time one arrives in the mailbox. 

Want to see my new favorite adoption t-shirt?  Here it is being modeled by my favorite 3-ish year old:

Miles gives this cool shirt two thumbs way up!
I LOVE the message that this sends out there.  I love that so much of the stigma of adoption being hush-hush or less accepted is going by the way side.  I mean, if SUPERMAN, arguably the best of all the superheroes was adopted, then HELLO!  Adoption must be awesome!

You can snag this adorable t-shirt for the next two weeks only over at A Brother for Lleyton to help the Ritzmann family bring home sweet baby number 4.

And for the rest of you out there in blog land with something awesome that you are selling (shirts, jewelry, raffles, etc.) to fund your adoption- PLEASE LINK IT HERE!  I want to surround you with a community that supports you and recognizes that we can all come together to tear down the financial burden surrounding adoption.  Share this list with all your friends.  Let's help get some kids home!

Please link straight to a specific post for your fundraiser- not to your blog homepage. (Hint: what you put in the "name" field are the words that show up on the list!)  Can't wait to see all of the awesome things people are selling to bring home their sons and daughters! Happy shopping!

(links not associated with an adoption fundraiser will be removed!)
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