Adventure, Dogs, Family, FUN!, joy, Life, Love, Nephews, New York City, Nieces, Road Trip, Spring, Virginia

Road Trip: King George, VA

My biggest sister has a little slice of Horsie Heaven down in Va, where the Potomac River separates Maryland from Virginia. A few times a year, captain Clam and I hop on a Megabus and clunk our way  down to DC where Annie and Jeff pick us up in the middle of the night. Since being blessed with Dino Gadget (pictured way down below), we have abandoned the luxuries of the Megabus and decided to clunk down there at our own leisure.

The trip was planned for a few weeks, since we had been talking about heading down for a little R&R and Junk Shopping. We had visited my family the previous week and were bringing a little surprise down to VA. His name is Max.

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Maximus Spero Beuche

Friday was such a gross day, but we knew we wanted to spend an entire day in VA, and not have to worry about getting up early to make the trek. As I came home from work, I could tell how bad the weather would be based on how low the planes were coming into LaGuardia. It felt like you could just pull the aircraft out of the sky, which was kinda awesome.

We headed out around 7pm on Friday. And, as dictated by luck, the skies opened up as soon as we hit the NJ Turnpike. Between apocalyptic downpour and traffic from a “lane merge” it took much longer than expected to get anywhere. By the time we finally stopped to rest, we were about and hour and a half behind schedule. The line for starbucks was it’s own traffic jam, so I opted for Burger King coffee. I also purchased the BEST postcard for my parents. It had a giant red pepper on it. Who knew that New Jersey was known for it’s red peppers!

After the horror show that is the NJ TPKE finally ended, we zoomed over the Delaware Memorial Bridge and skirted towards Baltimore and through that cool little tunnel on 895A. The sky had started to clear and a big, delicious Waning Gibbous framed in storm clouds shone through, lighting the way for us. The moon looked like a giant flower petal in the sky, waiting to be plucked. The stars started coming out, too. It’s been too long since I have seen a star that isn’t an airplane.

There’s a funny thing about driving for so long at night. The dark tends to play tricks on tired eyes. We were cruising down 301 and I swore that a yield sign was a 7′ tall deer. It was moving and prancing and I panicked at the thought of it darting in from of the truck. But it was, seriously, just a sign rattling in the breeze. When I did see a deer, I pointed to it and asked the Captain if it was real. He said that he didn’t see anything. I am questioning my sanity.

We rolled down Annie’s 1/2 mile long dirt driveway in the middle of the woods just a little before 2am. Max was amazing in the car and snuggled with the Clam most of the way. Of course, I got to drive the full 7 hours, which was a first for me. I was exhausted and somehow ridiculously proud for making the entire ride behind the wheel. We went  to bed immediately and slept like rocks sleeping in a rock pile.

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The Beuche Farm, King George, VA

We “slept in” until about 8:15, and woke up to a screaming nephew and a dog that really had to go pee.  Ann was out on a trail ride, so my niece offered to drive us around to some of the local antique malls so we could find some junk to bring back to New York City. If you read my post entitled Sixteen Years Ago Today, you will understand how close my niece and I are. She is just so cool. Jeff took the top and windows of her Bright yellow Jeep (name: Jessica), and we flew all over King George with a 16 year old at the wheel. She is actually a very good driver, just needs to be a little more patient when shifting into 4th gear.

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Teenager at the wheel!

Our first stop was Wal-Mart. I don’t usually patronize WM because I don’t believe in how they treat their employees, there are no WM’s in the City, and Captain Clam is banned for life. I reluctantly went anyway… and spent $80… on clothing. Who am I?

Our next stop was the Discount Tobacco Center in the Wal-Mart parking Lot. Captain Clam can smoke under water. Crazy, right?

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Next, Gabby took us up and down 301 to all the antique shops. We weren’t looking for anything in particular, but had our hopes set on coming home with some sort of sofa or settee for our living room. Our Fancy Futon needed to be moved to the second bedroom to accommodate some house guests the following weekend (although Captain Clam and I ended up sleeping on it), and we wanted to set up a nice sitting area, since we don’t have a TV and futons are for college kids.

We ended up at A Unique House Antique Mall, where we perused the endless booths of bric-a-brac, junk, antiques, collectibles, etc. We were also fortunate enough to go there on the 3rd Saturday of the month, which meant they had an outdoor flea market and some bad ass barbecue. We spied a few items that we wanted to purchase, and some we might be interested in next time, if they are still available.

After three hours of browsing, we thanked Jessie the Jeep for our amazing new windblown hair-do’s, hopped back in Dino-Gadget, and set out to find some Road-side BBQ and discuss the goodies that we wanted to drag home with us. Of course, we headed back to the antique mall, but all of the food was gone (gasp!). So we popped in to this Crazy Cajun place to get some grub. Captain Clam ordered something or other, which was made from a frozen pork Chop, and I ordered a BBQ Rib Sammy bathed in the House Sauce. The Captain’s  meal tasted like a flash fried frozen patty, and mine tasted like pure piggy heaven. We topped it off with Lemonade flavored purely by chemicals and some Cajun fries (which were delicious). And while the Clam pulled the Gadget around, I laid on the grass and took pictures of the paper-machete pig out front.

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The food did us good, even if half of it was kinda yuck. We U-turned a few times and found ourselves back at the Antique Mall purchasing an old Church Pew and a Mid-Century Night Table. Jackpot! These items now grace our Living room where the Futon used to sit.

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Some awesome finds, Koali, and Mr. T.

Thank goodness for Pick-up Trucks! After a long day of junk shopping, we returned to the farm, ready for a nap. Instead, we got a Horse Party. I had prepared well for the Preakness event (or so I thought) by purchasing a horse print dress. What I forgot was a giant, gawdy hat. At some point, I realized that I had forgotten my ENTIRE make-up bag (and also neglected to pack socks or t-shirts for Le Captain), so I had to use Gabby’s goods. And suddenly I was 16 years old again getting ready for an awesome party. I had washed my hair again (since it was so windblown I couldn’t get a brush through it), and just moseyed on up to the mirror with the other gals and started playing dress up.

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Horse Party Dress.

The guests began arriving and I helped my sister set up food… and then I helped myself to the bar… and then I helped myself to the yummy offerings of their guests (pumpkin cookies? yes,please!). The race lasted less than 2 minutes, and I couldn’t help but laugh at all of the carrying on that the guests were doing. Yelling. Hooting. Hollering. I couldn’t believe just how much they were all into it. I mean Horse enthusiasts… it’s a thing!

So after the fanatics calmed down, Captain Clam and I roused everyone into collecting firewood for an impromptu Bon-Fire. Whenever I visit my VA family, I insist on a fire. We then just sit around, play with fire, listen to  my brother in-law’s political tirades (this particular tirade was about how Global Warming is fake), drink beer, and just shoot the shit. Captain Clam, for being a sea creature, is particularly good at lighting fires. He was quite diligent in stoking the flames and inspiring the teenagers to go get wood and kindling.

We stayed out watching the flame lick the night until half past 2. I’m pretty sure us grown ups had a little too much to drink, but not enough to pay dearly in the morning. I woke up to a pancake breakfast, just like my mom’s: thin and buttery instant pancakes fresh off the griddle. Any hangover was sure to be diverted by all that magic.

After breakfast, we piled into my sister’s new monster truck and headed off for more antiquing. We visited some new places that I had never been to and scouted all sorts of junk that I wanted but couldn’t fit in the truck.

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Makes for some interesting jewelry making, eh?

Then we headed off to Colonial Beach for some ice cream, driftwood, baby duck sightings, and window shopping. As tradition would have it, we popped into Nancy’s Ice Cream Shop for some sweets. Lo and Behold, standing in front of us was the following:

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Annie gets photo bombed pretty hard.

This woman stood there for about 5 minutes with her hands down the back of her pants. I know it’s mean to post this (as I have been told by some of my Facebook friends), but seriously. What the hell?

Now, here is another wonder… it’s my brother-in-law smiling. This never happens:

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See, he CAN smile!

Well, after all that commotion, I needed the feeling of sand beneath my toes. The lot of us headed to the River. I wasted no time in removing my shoes and digging my dogs into the sand. Captain Clam and I read each others minds brilliantly and started collecting uniquely shaped pieces of driftwood.

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We headed down to the pier and found a “raft” of baby ducks. They were so little and cute and completely cautious of us.

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After all that fun, we headed into the local Pottery Shop to steal a plastic bag for our driftwood bounty and check out the wares. It was nice to see the pottery items, as well as the photography and art pieces. There were also some cool driftwood sculptures, and loose pieces of driftwood for sale. We ended up spending $2 on a note card to send along to my parents (which I still have  yet to mail since I am staggering this card with the postcard from New Jersey). Then I got to take a picture of these faces::

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Tyler! ❤

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Gabby! ❤

After our beach adventure, we ventured back to the homestead for what would be our last meal of dried out leftovers from the night before. We kissed Max goodbye, who looked like he was so sad, yet so happy, and headed down the long driveway for the journey back to the greatest city in the world.

We hit a Dunkin’ Donuts to fuel our exhausted bodies and saw this in the garbage can:

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huh?

All was well until we hit the Turnpike. As usual, New Jersey has the magic of a toilet bowl on taco night. Captain Clam almost made the entire drive back, but gave up once dusk hit, so I finished the final leg of the journey.

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Captain Clam gettin’ his road trip on.

We did run into this:

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Hanging Tough in NJ.

which made part of the traffic through hell only slightly amusing. We finally re-entered our home-state, reluctantly paying a ghastly toll on the GWB. All we wanted to do was get to sleep, but we had nearly forgotten about all of the stuff needing to be carried up five flights of stairs.

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Dino Gadget and our Treasures.

We were so exhausted that we couldn’t get the damn church pew up the stairs. I went up to the building Super’s apartment to beg for help, but no one was able to  help except his wife, a 60-something grandma ANIMAL! She pretty much single handedly dragged that beast up the stairs. I mean Captain Clam was there to help carry the heaviest part and all, and I was supervising, doing my best to hold up the middle of the bench and boost morale, of course.

We finally made it. It was a little after mid-night when we pulled our shoes off and collapsed into our bed. Exhausted but happy, we bid the day goodbye. Of course we were a little sad about leaving Max with his new family, but we were happy that he was finally happy. Now, if we could only learn to take a proper selfie, all the world would be right.

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Another Captain Clam and StephaJane selfie fail.

 

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Adventure, Dogs, FUN!, Journal, joy, Lent, Love, Today was Awesome

small joy: 40 days later

I was prompted by ManMadeOceans to continue the small joy list that I started for lent. His reasoning was simple: why not? As soon as I read his thoughts, I couldn’t come up with a good excuse… or I didn’t really want to. Either way, this is still an excellent exercise in finding the good in everyday. Even when that day seems like it sucked, I sit down and force myself to find something good. Lately I am looking for the small joys, wondering which joy is the smallest one to make the biggest difference. Since it is now officially Spring, happiness seems to be just one ray on sunshine away, making each morning an exercise in hope and excitement.

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Here’s another 40 day dose of the small joys that have been finding me lately.

Day 41: Taking the scenic route.

Day 42: Finding a hidden fan base for my blog. It’s called “my friend’s moms.”

Day 43: Making out like a teenager.

Day 44: Staying up late on a school night with an old friend.

Day 45: Making 4 Chicken legs for 3 people and feeding the neighbor who just happened to stop by. Then discovering the video to my new favorite song actually feels just like I do when I hear it …THIS!

Day 46: Sushi for lunch and dinner… a Good Friday coincidence!

Day 47: A full day of rest and relaxation.

Day 48: Lending a neighbor sugar.

Day 49: Bacon!

Day 50: Being thanked with groceries.

Day 51: Hanging out with a 4 year old at work. He opened a lollypop for me and made sure I ate it.

Day 52: A white dove in Union Square at 7:55 am. I also saw a squirrel with a newspaper. My only thought was “sodoku.”

Day 53: No boys in the office!

Day 54: Pizza from Giovanni’s.

Day 55: Exit 69 on the Long Island Expressway.

Day 56: Sleeping naked.

Day 57: Seeing my blog stats reach 5000+ hits. Thanks friend’s moms!

Day 58: A long overdue chat with my best gal pal.

Day 59: Impromptu hang out with my neighbors.

Day 60: Drinks with co-workers at Madison Square Eats.

Day 61: Paul has returned!

Day 62: Grocery Shopping at Stew Leonard’s and Stew Leonards Wine Shop in Yonkers.

Day 63: Finding something I thought might be gone forever.

Day 64: Finishing a project started too long ago!

Day 65: “Bad Movie” night turning out to be “Great Movie” night. See what we watched HERE.

Day 66: Making dinner for one of my best friends.

Day 67: Stopped at a red light and saw a cab driver helping an old fat lady with a walker out of the cab on the traffic side of the street.

Day 68: Lunch at Santa Clarita and then a trip to the pet shop to look at the animals.

Day 69: Hugging my mom (and having a dog as a house guest!).

Day 70: Starting THIS gardening project.

Day 71: Coming home to a dog that is just SOOOOO happy to see me.

Day 72: Waking up sore and feeling good about it.

Day 73: Finding money in my purse!

Day 64: Rainy evening road trip from NYC to VA to see my sister and her awesome family. Captain Clam and I sang and joked the entire ride, making 7 hours feel like, well, not 7 hours. Plus, we had a dog with us, so that was pretty awesome, too.

Day 75: Wearing a horse dress to a horse party.

Day 76: Seeing a dog smile.

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Day 77: Setting up an old church pew in the living room.

Day 78: Playing in the dirt

Day 79: Waking up to baby birds chirping.

Day 80: Having a great eyelash day!

Well, wasn’t that a journey and a half? There were a few days that really knocked the wind out of me, especially Day 64, where a co-worker’s snide comment about me being dumber than an osculating fan really stuck with me for a few days (and beyond, obviously). Day 77 was a real doozie when one person decided to be a total douchebag, starting all kinds of drama within my family by stirring a pot that should have been filled with gratitude, not unkindness. Finding joy on days like these is often hard because I am left so angry and emotional, which then make my small joys lost and I end up copping out on some other insignificant thing as my joy (like a church pew? really? It is pretty cool though).

It continues to amazing to me how small things can just tear the joy right out of the day just as much as small things can smother the day in love.

My happiest days also came towards the tail end of this past 40 days. Starting #Garden134 is a huge goal for me and Captain Clam, plus helping a dog find a good home and seeing all my family in the span of one week was a real treat (that’s not supposed to sound sarcastic). Day 61 and 66 were real happy days, since one of my best friends ever has returned to the neighborhood (well, and the United States of America). It was a real shit experience when he moved away, and it’s been such a huge joy to reconnect with him and catch up on a few missing years. Welcome Back Paul!

I look forward to sharing the next 40 days with ya’ll. What small joys have you had lately?

 

 

 

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Happy Birthday!, Love, Nieces, POOP

Sixteen Years Ago Today

It was 1998. I was sixteen. My sister woke me up at 5:30 in the morning. I asked her how she was feeling and she said “Today is the day.” I asked her how she knew and she told me her water had broken a few hours ago. I shit my pants. She told me it was okay and she already took a poop that morning so she didn’t to it “on the table.” What a relief! I wondered why the ambulance wasn’t there, but she was in no rush and calmed me down like she always did. I couldn’t stand the anticipation. Then I remembered I had Mrs. LeCann’s English midterm… I was off to school. Crap!

I had a beeper on me (it was so not mine), since this was the 90’s. I rushed through my midterm, checking my state-of-the-art device as many times as possible…. but if you know me, you know that I have a rough draft and then 6 re-writes to make before I put it in that little blue book. The buses pulled up and my pen was still going. I was the last one in the room and started to cry. Mrs. LeCann was stern but sweet (as always), “what’s wrong? she asked” I sobbed, “My sister is having a baby.” She said “They won’t leave without you.” I finished perfectly  (totally got an A+, tears and all) and got on my bus just as it was pulling out.

I got home after what seemed like hours, but no one was home. I was a disaster. Finally, my mom called. They were at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson, NY, but no one wanted to leave to come get me. I was devastated until I heard my hot rod mom pull up outside the house. I hopped in the 1984 Thunderbird  T-Top Coupe and sped off towards a very different life.

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Pretty much the COOLEST person ever.

She was born around a quarter after 4 pm. The doctor (finally) came to us.” She’s a healthy baby girl! Mom is doing fine.” I almost died… pretty sure I cried and almost passed out (since there was so much blood on his pants). We called my dad and let him know he was a legit grandpa. We were finally let into the room and I got to hold her at last. What an ugly little alien baby she was! She was a little lump in my arms with an open top stocking on her head… she had blood in her hair and water logged skin, and I have never been so in love!

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Portrait of Love.

That first summer, I was the babysitter. We’d wake up around 8 so she could eat. Every once in a while she’d sleep until 9. I always wore a “puke shirt,” since she’d spit up all over everything. I never cared. Every morning she would sleep on my heart, like a peaceful kitten (and you know how I feel about kittens). She barely cried, since she never left my arms, and was spoiled with all the Auntie love that I never knew I had in me. Everyday she would change and grow, even if it was just a little mutant being… I saw it. She was bigger and stronger, and more loving, and curious every day. She was almost mine for that first summer.

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Little did I know…

One night, I was on the phone with a friend (who was a super hot boy I had known since forever), and I was babysitting my sweet little buzz kill. I had the cordless phone on one shoulder and was resting her in my lap, bouncing and playing (and probably chatting about how adorable this little lump was) when suddenly, my entire lap was filled with warm liquid. “Hmmph,” I though. “Oh, she peed on me.” But seriously, what baby pees that much? I took her upstairs to change her (still on the phone with my hunk) and I then discovered the ridiculous amount of urine was caused by a ridiculous amount of pudding textured shit in her diaper. Being the super human baby-nanny that I thought I was, I stayed on the phone and proceeded to get “pudding mush” in her hair, my hair, on both of our arms, the wall, the changing table, my shoes, my face, her face, etc. Needless to say, my phone call was cut short.

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Poop Machine.

There were many nights when we’d have our “sleep overs,” She’d pass out at 8:30 and then barf or piss on me by 10. I’d always blame it on the cheddar and oreo mix that she loved so much, and really never minded that much. She once got even with one of Aunt Chrissy’s (ex) boyfriends. He was laying on the floor tossing her around like the little bear that she was… and she puked right in his mouth and all over his face. It was brilliant. Still passing around mad props to her for that one.

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Sleep-over Gabby.

By the time I graduated High School, she and Annie were married and whisked away to their next grand adventure in Texas. I have (honestly) never fully recovered from the parting, but never saw how 2,069 miles (about 31 hours) could make all that much of a difference. And it sure as hell didn’t.

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Texas Gabby.

My sweet little Miss grew so big so quickly. She’d come around every now and again ( and I’d travel to wherever she might be) and we would have our sleepovers, minus the puking and peeing. She once told me that I needed to “grow up,” and somehow everything made sense after that. She’d ask me hard questions like, “Aunt Stephie, is there a God?” or “What’s a period?” And I’d always answer, “Well, that’s something your parents should tell you about first, but ask me again when you’re 16. I can’t influence your ideas just yet. When you’re 16, then we can talk.” I never actually thought that she’d ever be 16. Crap! Now I have to answer these questions…. and probably a few dozen more.

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Apparently, she didn’t get the memo about the Banana Face.

Well this little nugget grew and grew and wouldn’t stop. She tricked me once into taking her to Build-a-Bear. Well, $75 later, she had a unicorn named “Rosa” with 2 pairs of Sketchers sneakers, a tu-tu, a Leather Jacket, a cell phone, and a variety of t-shirts, we finally left the store. Once we got home, she stripped the thing down and started to dress up her little brother. Not sure why Rosa needed a cell phone, but her Little brother looked pretty hip in his new leather jacket.

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Tyler in Rosa’s leather jacket.

Every time I’d see my little stink, she’s run up to me and jump in my arms. Around 11 years old, she was just too damn big, but she’d do it anyway. Of course, I’d oblige and swing her around like the little rag doll that she used to be. We’d try to go on adventures at Grandpa & Grandma’s house, but all the developing in the neighborhood would bore us and scare grandma, so about 20 minutes into our adventure, a search and rescue unit would come and  “save us.” Then we’d just be bored and share snarly, sarcastic remarks, reminding us that we were pretty much the same person…. no matter what, we always had each other to “get” one another.

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Greatest picture day outfit EVER!

At one point she grew boobs and I grew a beer gut. We started calling each other a “bitch’ and then we’d giggle in recognition of both fact and folly. She still jumps into my arms when I see her, even though I am now officially twice her age. She introduces me to her friends (who are all such gorgeous little women) as “the best Aunt ever (sorry other Aunties, but I am the favorite).”  I told her once she was 16, I wouldn’t be  her Aunt anymore; I’d be her friend. I have always been her friend… or like a big sister from forever ago, so she could just call me by my name. She toys with it, but that might be more of an 18 or 21 year old kinda thing.

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Best Pals.

Last weekend I went to VA with Captain Clam to surprise this not-so-little monster for her sweet 16. I almost cried when she came in. Her mouth was wide open in surprise of all these visitors screaming and blowing horns and shooting confetti poppers at her. She saw me and ran up with scary amounts of joy and squooshed my brains out. I never realized that she cherished the last 16 years as much as I did. Of course I popped a hernia trying to pick her up and swing her all over the place (she is just too big for all of that these days, and so am I!)… then I had as fun of a time as I could with a herd of 16 year olds in a well decorated basement.

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SURPRISE!!!

She was born on a Tuesday, just like me. In fact, when we are together, it’s hard to get us straight. I am called Gabby, and she is Stephanie. And we just laugh. She looks like my sister, but she acts just like me (that’s where my diligent sarcasm and wit come into play). It’s like she took all the goodness that I had and mixed it into all of everything that is just a little bit better. She is my favorite lump.

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Twinsies.

All I can say, Ms. Gabby Ann, is that I hope when I have my daughters they are just like you. I am so proud of you and the young woman you have become. I love you.  Happy Birthday, my little bitch (crap, can I say that in such a sentimental tribute? Yes. Yes I can. You’ve earned it.).

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Gab, Captain Clam, and Me at the Polish Town Fair 2013. She is clearly the coolest person alive.

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