In between overdoing it

Posts tagged ‘memories’

Summer to Remember

summer-learningWe are coming the end of another school year. This time of year is bittersweet to me. I look forward to the summer, the less hectic pace and the opportunity to spend more uninterrupted time with my children. At the same time I am also a bit melancholy over the passing of another school year and the ever present march forward.

My daughter is entering 5th grade next year. In public school down south that means the last year of elementary school. With middle school looming I (as well as other mothers facing the same circumstance) am filled with fear and trepidation. My fear is founded in what my little girl will be facing. How “advanced” are these middle schooners? Will my innocent child fall prey to some all knowing 8th grader?

I remember middle school for myself. It was a really troubling, emotional time. Leaving childhood behind and embracing hormones, teens, boys and the need for popularity and acceptance. I know that very soon I will be left behind for friends at school. And I get it that is just the way of things, I did it to my parents who did it to their parents and so on. It is a right of passage. But even with I am still emotional about her growing up.

All those people who said how fast the time goes when you have children weren’t kidding. It flew by and as I sit here typing this I watch as another year come to a close. Even though I am saddened at the idea of my cuddly funny, sweet babies moving closer to adulthood. What ultimately gets me is that I know they are only mine for a short time. The time feels much shorter now then it did when they were in diapers.

In the end it is about watching them grew. Seeing them have new experiences and transform into the people they are meant to become. As I have mentioned before part of that scares me but that is the leap we take when having children. We know at some point while holding that baby in our arms we will have to release them into the world.

Part of why we hold on the past is because we know what has already happened but we do not know what will be. I think as fearful as I am about the future I am also hopeful. For some of us, like my sister-in-laws and their children, they come back to you. Not as the child that left you but as the friend you never knew you needed or that they would become.

The future hold so much possibility for my children. I will just have to sit back and enjoy the journey. As for now I plan on making this summer and each one to follow as fun, funny and memorable as we can make it.

 

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Moderating Family Vacations

 

cruiseIf you are like me, you love the idea of family vacations. Then you realize all the work you have to do as the mom and primary planner/packer/ organizer of said vacation. As I am writing this, I’m getting ready to head off on vacation and have a mountain of laundry, packing and cleaning to do before we leave. However, I take comfort in knowing  this time,  I can actually get to relax and be on vacation!

The only vacation where Mom’s get pampered

This vacation we are going on a cruise!  I have found cruises to be truly restful and restorative. Unlike other vacations where meal planning, itinerary and accommodations are still mom’s domain. With a cruise, once you set foot on the ship, you are received of your typical mom duties. There is an entire staff of people who will cook, clean, and do your laundry. For a few days you are relieved of meal planning, activity itinerary, and chauffeur responsibilities. All you have to do is step out of your room and well…nothing, you are already there. Go get dinner, see a show or sit in the sun.

I you are like me and have difficulty getting a babysitter. The child care services for most cruises are available for no additional fee. Trust me, the kids don’t want to leave their “Kid’s Club.” Everything in these areas are designed to cater to and occupy your children, giving you some needed free time. Not in a guilty stealing five minutes to run to the store without the kids sort of way. You are free to do absolutely nothing.

Once this concept hits, you it is life changing. Yes, some cruises, like Disney, can be pricy. However, you are almost guaranteed a great, restful experience and some quality family time with limited distractions. To me these days are worth their weight in gold.wp-1451440231899.jpg

There are a few things to keep in mind when cruising to make your trip as enjoyable as possible.

Don’t be bothered by the motion of the ocean

If you are prone to motion sickness, (like I am when my husband drives) you will want to pack some medication like Dramamine or Bonine. I like Bonine, you only need a half or a quarter of a pill to work effectively and it doesn’t make you as drowsy as Dramamine. Most large ships have powerful stabilizers that will prevent severe rocking. Also your body adjusts after about a day, so you might only need medication for day 1 of your cruise.

Research shore excursions

Depending on your itinerary, there are several shore exclusions to choose from. In some travel destinations going it alone can leave you victim to locals looking to pray on tourists. The cruise approved trips might cost more but they are backed by the cruise line. This also relieves you from the responsibility of having to find a way to get back to the ship after the excursion, which may be a problem if you go it alone.

That being said there are some good options for non-cruise shore excursions. Based of reviews some of these are offered at a lower price and can offer more than those from a cruise line. However, I would caution you to thoroughly research these offerings before booking anything. Likewise, keep in mind the political and economic state of the location where the excursion is offered.

Participate in theme or formal night

I know this adds a lot of extra items to pack but how often do you get the opportunity to dress like a pirate?  If your cruise has a formal night this is a great opportunity to get professional formal pictures. Let’s be honest, who has time to get this done at home? Not only are you creating  a special memory but you get a chance to get all dolled up and maybe even visit the ship spa in preparation!

Disney cruises have a pirate-themed night, and other lines offer Black & White nights or Tropical theme nights. These will vary depending on length, itinerary and cruise line.  If your cruise has a theme night have fun with it. It might seem strange at first to dress up as an adult, but it is a great way to make memories and have some awesome pictures to boot. Take the chance to channel your inner pirate and have fun with it. You won’t be sorry.

Don’t have to stay stuck in your cabin

There are plenty of activities throughout the ship. Plus, you can use it as a learning opportunity for your children. Ask about scheduling a ship tour. Some cruises will offer “a meet the captain” or “tour the bridge” event. It is amazing experience to see what a coordinated effort it takes to make the ship run efficiently.

Don’t feel guilty about the Kids Club

On our first cruise we felt guilty about putting our daughter in the nursery so we can have one dinner as a couple. Don’t. You need a vacation too and on board their babysitter at your disposable. They are specifically trained to care for your children and even if you are at dinner or the spa you are never more then a few decks away. If you have older kids they are in for a treat. There are fun activities and events every hour to keep your kids have a blast. Just don’t be hurt when they ask to go back to the Kids Club the next night.

Remember you don’t have to do anything

This is the only vacation that I know of where you don’t have to do anything if you choose and no one will be disappointed in you. No driving to visit remote relatives, trying to work around other peoples schedule and getting the guilty phone call when you didn’t visit your cousin Jim your last visit.

Take the pressure off yourself, don’t worry about pleasing everyone or seeing everything and just chill. On one of our cruises after having our son I was in such a mommy mode that I kept doing everything for everyone. That was until the wait staff stepped in and cut food up FOR ME! That was my cue to relax and let them handle it.

 

 

 

The Death of the America Mall

Photo from MallsofAmerica.blogspot.com

Growing up I remember spending weekend days meeting friends at the local Mall. There we would shop for music at Sam Goody,  try on clothes at Jean Nicole, Benetton, and Contempo Casuals. Then we would grab a bite to eat at such food court greats as Orange Julius and Sbarro’s. As a teen the Mall held endless hours of entertainment. You could met “exotic” people from as far away as two town’s over, flirt with cute boys and hang out with friends.

Growing up the Mall became my home away from home. It started off as just a fun place to go but when I needed a part-time job the mall because my employer. Since I already knew where every store was (like any teen in the 80’s) I found the perfect job at the Mall information desk. This would not be the only job I held at the Mall however, I also work for a shoe stores, and various clothing stores.

Want to take a survey?

But the one Mall job will always hold a special place in my heart was Quick Test (a Mall Market Research Company.)

Quick Test

Quick Test was still there when I went to visit in 2015.

This was my first real job after having a paper route. The whole idea was you would approach shoppers and try to get them to take part in a market research survey. Sometimes this was a lot harder then it appeared.

During this time I met the most amazing people. My boss, Marianne was like the mother figure I desperately needed. There was the cool, tough, older girl I secretly wished I could be like. The smart kids I always looked up to. As well as the rotating group of teens from other schools who became great friends. Together share long, contemplative talks, or just plain silliness while we  desperately tried to convince people to take a survey.

My Mall Family

The supervisors and co-workers where more then just friends they became like a family. Come to think of it, the entire Mall staff became like a family to me. The maintenance guys, the retail store clerks, and the security staff  became an integral part of my coming of age. All during high school I felt like the Malls version of “Norm” from Cheers. I would go into the Mall and knew everyone working there and they knew me.

image found on Pinterest

Friends came to visit me whenever they went shopping. So much of my high school life and growing up revolved around the time I spent at the Mall. It was more than just a place to shop and gather it became like a home.

Having such a history invested in the Mall, it saddens me to recognize the slow agonizing death of a place that held so many memories, life lessons and experiences of my youth. It was not hard to see the writing on the food court wall after the news following this holiday season.

Many major retailers are unable to compete with the convenience, value and infinite availability of products that online seller’s have. Historic chains like Macy’s, Sear’s and J.C. Penny’s are closing stores and preparing for what will most likely be their final days.

In the same respect, foot traffic at Mall’s all over America have fallen to all time low’s. These shopping spaces have to complete not only with online retailer but also big box stores that now offer everything from food the clothes to housewares in one easy location.

Bye Mall

Likewise, kids no longer need the Mall to met people. They met virtually, online. They can spend hours Facebook messaging, commenting and texting instead of meeting up for shopping or a pretzel from Auntie Ann’s. The dynamic of teen relationships has changed and so to has the relationship to the Mall. The place that defined teen life in the 80’s and early 90’s is all but a non-entity to today’s youth. Thus the Mall is being phased out. It is dying and with it the anchor stores we have grown up with.

The landscape of teen life and the American consumer is changing. The town square was replace by Downtown’s, which eventually became the mega Mall. It is sad to see the Mall’s go. I grew up at there, learned about work, relationships and myself.

My kids and today’s youth will have to learn those things in a new venue, I guess. Don’t know what the future holds for the Mall but I don’t think it is total down for the count. It will probably be reinvented in some form in the future.  Everything old becomes new again at some point. Who knows maybe we will return to the 1950’s malt shops, drive-in’s and bowling ally’s as the next generation of meeting places.

What do you think will replace the Mall? What are your favorite Mall memories? Please comment and share them. Would love to hear

If you want to jog your memory and have a good laugh take a look at Michael Galinsky: Malls Across America photo book. Also check out some really cool vintage pictures of your local Mall at Mallsofamerica.blogspot.com.

 

 

Why Holiday Traditions Matter

holiday traditionsThe first Christmas after I moved away from my childhood home to attend college I return to find the house with no Christmas decorations, no tree, nothing to show the holiday’s were approaching. By all standards I was considered an adult now and should have been too cool for childish Christmas drawings I made when I was 9.  Being a college student, I was not far to busy for the silliness of tree decorating. Baking cookies, well I was way to important for that. Wasn’t I?

No way.

I wanted the decorations, the tree and all the festivities. It was Christmas after all. Even thought I felt very self important and independent at that time of my life. Returning to my home at Christmas was like remembering who I really was. To see my parents no longer felt the need to decorate made the whole season feel like just another day.

This was around the time my father was starting to have serious health problems and I know they just we’re not in a Christmas-y state of mind then. So I took it upon myself to decorate for them. I went into the garage and brought in all the boxes. Each item I pulled out had memory attached. The handmade ornaments, the arts and crafts decorations and the ancient puzzle-like artificial Christmas tree, we went through each recalling past Christmases.

Nothing fancy just family

One if the things I loved the most about our house at Christmas was that we never had fancy store bought decorations. My parents worked hard but we were far from wealthy. Our decorations were mostly arts and crafts, or repurposed items. My dad had started the tradition of stringing Christmas cards across the ceiling of our house.20151203_085240-1

Each year we would read through these cards and remember people from years past, like the big tipper on my paper route when I was 12, old neighbors that moved, family who had passed away. Their memory was preserved in their own hand-writing through these cards. The Christmas wishes and good sentiment were revisited every year as we placed another card upon the string. This very act of stringing the cards created the feeling of Christmas for me.

Fast forward to Christmas this year

I have children of my own, a new easier to assemble Christmas tree, bright store bought decorations. We have created some new holiday traditions, We stay in our pajamas all day on Christmas Day and play. Also we started collecting year ornaments from each year my and my husband have been together.

But many of my families holiday traditions live on, like handmade decorations and stringing holiday cards. This tradition has become even more special. It is the digital age and each year the amount of handwritten cards dwindles. Instead we receive e-cards or non folded printed picture cards while they are nice, a true hand-written Christmas card is a lot harder to come by.

Thankfully, I have saved cards since before my husband and I were married. Just like me and my parents did, my husband and I recall people we worked with, grandparents that are no longer with us and friends who moved away, as we string these cards.

My dad has since passed away as well but when we string our cards I always explain that this was a traditions my father started. When my mother comes over and see’s the cards I know she is not thinking of spending another Christmas without him. She knows he is here with us through these traditions.

What are your holiday traditions? What feelings do they create in you? Have you started any new traditions for your family?

 

Organizing Month 11:Clearing out Holiday Stress

Organizing Month 11: Holiday stressWith the end of November comes my second to last installment of my walk through the book “One Year to an Organized Life,” by Regina Leeds. So far in this series we have tackled emotional and physical clutter and it has made all of the holiday activities so much easier. Here are links to the spaces we have organized so far; Kitchen, Garage, Bathroom, Bedroom, Paper Organization, Memorabilia, Travel, Kids Rooms, Living/Dining Room.

The author said it but I didn’t really believe it until Thanksgiving came upon us. She stated after creating organizational habits throughout the house this year your home will now support you during the holidays instead of sabotage you. She was totally right!

The freak-out begins

Every year about two weeks before Thanksgiving, I start to get anxious. I start to freak out imagining all that has to get done before Thanksgiving. Creating lists upon lists or what needs to be cleaned, purchased and cooked.  Tending to take on way to much this time of year, the process of prepping for the holiday’s makes me over complicate all of these things.

I worry will there be enough food? I envision how messy my house will be for guests.  Not to mention the time it will take to shop, prep, cook and clean the house, while still having to work a full-time job. Add to that the anxiety of seeing Christmas ads all over the place by early November. Are they kidding I haven’t even gotten through Thanksgiving yet and I’m already feeling the pressures of Christmas shopping?

Turkey, family and flooring oh my!

Well, to my surprise this year that didn’t happen when by all reason it should have been worse. See, about two weeks before Thanksgiving we were scheduled to get new flooring installed through almost all of our home. This renovation was scheduled for October but had to be postponed due to Hurricane Matthew.working-mother-clip-art-multitasking_mom1

Not only did I have my entire house in shambles, I had no floor for about a week and a half before the big day. Almost the whole house of furniture was packed into three bedrooms and we were still living in it! So roughly about four days before Thanksgiving, I had to put my entire house back together.

Still we could not move all the furniture back completely until the baseboard’s were done THE DAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING. What? When I should be prepping, cleaning and cooking I had to move furniture.

The weird thing was, this year I was not stressed. I truly believe all of the work of de-cluttering had played a large roll in this lack of the anxiety I have come to associate with Thanksgiving.

In fact, once the floor was installed we realized how much nicer our home felt with less stuff. As we moved in some furniture, we uncluttered more and decided to get rid of pieces to make our small home feel more open.

During the renovation my kids and I were stuck in the bedroom and front yard for much of the time. I took this opportunity to further pare down my children’s belongings and tackled the scrapbook cabinet I had mentioned in a prior post. Getting rid of toys, cloths, and video games I missed on the first go around. Once that was done we moved on to Thanksgiving.

What was Thanksgiving like as a kid?

The first section of this chapter, in my view, is the most important. Surprisingly it has nothing to do with organizing your physical space. Instead it deals with confronting where your holiday stress comes from and setting your intention for this years celebration’s. This might not seem like a big deal, but it is huge.

It starts with several journal questions that dive into what your holiday was like as a child. They seem like simple questions at first but help you to discover some thought patterns that may be trapping you into a certain way of thinking about Thanksgiving.

Growing up my parents hosted Thanksgiving. My mom and Dad where really good cooks and dinner was always delicious. However my cousins, who would come over, had a beautifully decorated and immaculately clean home. My family… not so much. I remember being the only one to clean the house before Thanksgiving because I was embarrassed. To me our house was always a mess, our furniture was old and out dated. It was nothing like the clean, well-kept home my cousins had.

Looking back I realized my parents were more concerned about the food they prepared and the family time we had.  They were never much for appearances. Not having a ton of money or time, they felt these resources were better spent on providing a great meal, not on the appearance of the house.

However, after answering these questions I discovered the majority of my Thanksgiving stress was generating from this memory. It was not in the food preparation so much as the house cleaning I worried over. It was so difficult to keep the house clean to the way I wanted with two dogs and two children.

Mom, we really didn’t need a 20 lb Turkey

The other thing I realized is I completely over spent and over-cooked for Thanksgiving dinner. Every year I would watch my parents prepare Thanksgiving enough for 30 people when we where only 10. One year my mother even bought a 20 lb turkey! So growing up I always thought this was the way Thanksgiving was done.

This discovery was made when I was making my Thanksgiving menu, something that the author advises in the third section of the chapter. Going down my list, noting all of ingredients to shop for there was a nagging feeling to make this list longer. Eventually my husband asked why I was trying to make Thanksgiving stressful for myself by adding more to do? He was totally right. I didn’t have the time or the energy to add more and why did I feel like I needed too?

This Thanksgiving we had a wonderful time and I actually got to spend it with my family instead of in the kitchen. I allowed myself to take some shortcuts and help by purchasing cake and pie instead of making it myself and let my husband do the clean up.

Thanksgiving isn’t suppose to be about stressing out, or having an immaculate home filled to too much stuff. It is about family and making memories. So this year I am setting my intention on that.

[ctt title=”‘The holidays are about families celebrating together-the holiday is not supposed to be perfect,’ ” tweet=”‘The holidays are about families celebrating together-the holiday is not supposed to be perfect,’ ” coverup=”bla8Z”]from One Year to an Organized Life by Regina Leeds.

Organizing Month 7: A Collection of Memories

Organizing month 7 a ollection of memories

Organizing  our memories

Memories, they are worth more then any price tag, they help to make us who we are but there are times when clinging to memories might hold us back from living in the present. Over this year I have been on an organizing journey to work my way month-by-month through the book, “One Year to an Organized life,” by Regina Leeds. So far I have addressed the kitchen, garage, bedroom, bathroom, office papers, and travel. This month was one of the hardest and well… I kind of failed.

This month we tackle our collections and memorabilia. This may not seem like much but memories and some pretty intense feelings can be wrapped up into these type items. That is what makes this so much more difficult to organize and purge from.

Whatever the item is in this category, it evokes a memory or a time we felt better about ourselves, our environment, our life. It reminds us of possibilities that were open that might now be closed, comfort and easy that is lost to us in our current life, people who we can no longer be with. All these situations live in our memories and we have placed these memories into a physical item. So each time we look at them, we can become that person again, at least for the moment.

In this chapter the author brings up several very valid points to help you to let go of these items. She states that many people hold on to college memorabilia because they mistakenly believe that was when they “peaked” in their life. But here is another gem of wisdom found in the pages of this book.

[ctt title=”Honoring the past is a beautiful gesture of gratitude. But getting stuck in the past robs us of being fully invested in the miracle of today” tweet=”Honoring the past is a beautiful gesture of gratitude. But getting stuck in the past robs us of being fully invested in the miracle of today” coverup=”eU92x”]

How many of us do this?

We fixate on the past and don’t live in the moment. I will admit I have not shown gratitude for today. What I thought was preserving the past kind of took over. See, I have been an avid scrap booker since before I got married. I loved the idea of preserving a moment of time on a scrapbook page. It was a creative outlet I shared with friends. As I had children I preserved the experience and their growth through these scrapbooks.

As they grew and my time began to fill with other things, I still felt the intense responsibility to preserve a history for my family. I actually made the fun activity of scrapbooking into something on my to-do list. A chore. No one was making me do it. I put this idea in my head and the pressure on myself was completely made up. Until one day, I decided to stop. Just stop.

I finally came to the realization I was not enjoying it anymore. The truth is my family and I have not cracked open any of these scrapbooks in years. With the exception of their baby books, they really have no interest in them. I was doing this solely for me it turns out, and when it stopped being fun what was the point? My kids where living for today so why shouldn’t I. So where did I fail you ask?

What was left in the wake of all of this scrapbook collecting was a cabinet full of scrapbooking supplies, crafts and memorabilia. Yes, I had been the one who saved every award, every drawing and every photo of every event in my children’s life. There tiny hand-print turkey, the good citizen award, and all the colorful scribbles of pre-school. Where I failed is that I can’t let them go. Not just yet. 20150823_194107 (2)

The author is right on the mark when she states these collections make us think of a time when our life was more interesting, or exciting. I look at these and think back to a time my children where smaller, and more needy. Where I felt more important to them.  When, for a small moment of time, I was someone’s world. Like they are for me.

This collection makes me feel that again and if I am honest with myself I’m not ready to let it go just yet. I know it will happen sometime. Our house is small and I can only save so much before it gets out of control, so I know the time will come when I have to let it go.

As for now I followed some of the books instruction which helped me let go, a least a little. Collections are meant to be displayed so I took some of the newer drawings and awards and put them on the doors of each child’s bedroom. I also stopped printing pictures unless I had a specific purpose for them. Now I organize and store them digitally. This has gone a long way to reducing the clutter of printed pictures that had been accumulating.

So for now my children’s memorabilia sit in a cabinet awaiting the day I return to scrapbooking for fun or the time I am emotionally ready to let it go. Currently, I only get rid of a few things every couple of weeks rand I’m ok with that. I know letting go is an evolution and the key is to start.

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5 Lessons from a Slower Paced Summer

5 Lessons from a Slow Paced Summer

Slowing down to make better memories

When I had children I read all the popular parenting books and magazines. I found they are filled with articles and information about how to stimulate young minds, how to prepare them for the world and how to teach them to achieve. I know I’m not alone in feeling the almost overwhelming pressure to create a prodigy, turn my kid into the next great whatever, and teach them from day one how to achieve success. Yes moms, we all feel the pressure to ensure our child is gifted, special and excelling. But after several years at a forced breakneck pace of activity, I had to question did my children actually want this?

Are they benefiting from rushing from activity to activity. I admit at times I still want to be the “Tiger Mom.” Like most moms we  feel the need to equip our children with every advantage, every possibility. So they can strive to be the best, underbeachstand hard-work and excel. These are all great values to teach our children. However, here is a point were it can get away from us. There is a point when the want for them to succeed outpaces the need to let them just be a kid.

This summer my family has focused on slowing down. This is the first summer we did not have swimming lessons or some sort of scheduled activity to rush to. After a school year with too much to do, I was burnt out. I think my kids and me both needed a break, We needed the downtime to do well…nothing. Or whatever we choose to do. That’s is where this summer’s goal began.

[ctt title=”When the summer started we did not expect to have gained so much by doing nothing. ” tweet=”When the summer started we did not expect to have gained so much by doing nothing. ” coverup=”92aQ9″]Ok, really we did not do “nothing.” We just had nothing on the agenda (expect my daughters birthday at Disney, but event hat was finalized last minute.) We didn’t even plan our trip to see family till the last minute. For a chronic over scheduler this was a test for me. But as it turns we accomplished so much and learned more then we ever expected. Here is some of the lessons to learn from a slower paced summer.

  1. We learned it is ok to just play – There is a lot to be said for just playing the day away. Matter of fact there is a ressurance in the usefulness of unstructured imaginative play. It has been found to foster creativity, and the social and emotional growth of children. Plus spending a day letting the kids just play without feeling the need to make it edulational or “productive” takes the pressure off mom.
  2. We learned about each other – Not having scheduled activity meant less time in the car driving from place to place and more time to spend with each other.  It gave us as parents the opportunity have unhurried, less distracted conversations with our kids. This gave us the chance to discovering my daughter’s newfound love for Betty and Veronica comics and my son’s aptitude in racing games.
  3. We learned to enjoy the season – This summer we really took advantage of all of the things that summer represents. We spent more time swimming, in the pool and at water parks then ever before. It was such a blast.
  4. We learned to go with the flow – A last minute, impromptu trip to visit my sister at a beach front condo became the best trip of the summer. Spending time together ,watched the sunset, and BBQing. It was a relaxing unscheduled time just enjoying family and the summer.
  5. We learned to be in the moment – This summer, more then any other, we savored the moments spent with family, friends and each other. In the past I was so busy planning what we would do next. I was never fully present in the moment. My kids suffered through me shuffling them off to the next thing. Just so I  to check off another accomplishment on to-do list of activities. This was the first summer I went without a to-do list and let things flow as they came up.

This summer we spent day’s running outside with the neighbors, and sometimes we stayed in and played Legos for hours. We spent summer evenings going for long walks around our community and mornings splashing in the pool. We had long talks, cooking experiments and water slides. This summer we made memories, unplanned and unfetter by a schedule. I will admit these lessons probably impacted me more then my kids. But these memories and what we have learned from this summer will shape my approach to the year ahead. In the end it isn’t how much you get done, or even what you are doing. It’s who you spend the time with and the memories you make that matter most.

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