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#211 of 239 Old 11-25-2008, 02:06 PM
 
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Can I join?! I've been striving towards simple living my whole adult life. When I first set out on my own, my goal was to be able to put everything I owned into one vehicle. I’ve strayed quite a bit from that initial goal in the last few years – mostly because of “nesting”. I don’t think I could ever keep things that simple anymore, especially now with a kid.

But I do strive to be simple in other ways. Since we moved into our first, small house, I’ve been ruthlessly decluttering. I’m a proud to say that I’ve finally let go of lots of childhood mementos. DH has pitched in a little, since our goal is to declutter the basement to make a woodworking shop for him. We also rarely buy things and so we are not really adding new clutter to the house (if I could only get my inlaws to go along with this .

I also try to simplify our lives by meal planning. Lately, I can make 3-4 meals out of one chicken. I cook a whole chicken on Sunday. We eat chicken and potatoes and carrots Sunday night. I use the left-over meat for Chinese stir-fry or for burritos later in the week. I also save the broth and use it for the base in lentil soup, chilly or whatever soup I have planned for the week.

I am planning a simple Christmas holiday season. Everyone is getting homemade gifts. We are hosting Christmas for the extended family this year. I hope that everyone will enjoy all the love that goes into my home-cooked meals and hand-made Christmas decorations.
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#212 of 239 Old 11-25-2008, 02:12 PM
 
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ok, I need some ideas on how to simplify my paperwork stuff. I am completley overwhelmed filling out papers for the gov't assistance, getting documents to them for foodstamps, trying to get my state ID which has been a nightmare, paying bills, making phone calls (That end up taking an hour when I feel like they should take 5 min) etc.

How do you limit the amount of clerical work in your home? This is freaking rediculous, I am doing probably 10-15 hours a week of this. I'd like to have a tent in the woods and not do any of it.

I hate that I have to deal with this stuff.
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#213 of 239 Old 11-25-2008, 02:47 PM
 
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ok, I need some ideas on how to simplify my paperwork stuff. I am completley overwhelmed filling out papers for the gov't assistance, getting documents to them for foodstamps, trying to get my state ID which has been a nightmare, paying bills, making phone calls (That end up taking an hour when I feel like they should take 5 min) etc.

How do you limit the amount of clerical work in your home? This is freaking rediculous, I am doing probably 10-15 hours a week of this.
I have a plastic (s filing box with appropriately labeled folders for all important papers. I keep a "permanent" box with government documents in folders labeled for each family member and then I have a "yearly" box for all applicable tax info and bill stubs. As soon as we get a bill in the mail I put it in a special place and once a week write out checks and immediately file all the bill stubs in their appropriate places. I also sort the mail the minute I bring it in the house and recycle all junk mail and open all "real" mail and organize it. Bills in one pile and important things in another. (Designating this spot has made it possible for DP to help with bills too.)
I probably spend about 1 hour a week on clerical items. I find that if I attend to them on a weekly basis it makes it easier to write the bills, keep track of when they're due and pay them on time. Plus my checkbook balancing is easier as well.

Summer: crafty mama to 2 little girls and wife to Bob
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#214 of 239 Old 11-25-2008, 05:10 PM
 
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I'd like to have a tent in the woods and not do any of it.

I hate that I have to deal with this stuff.
Me too! I especially hate tax time. DH and I always end of getting so tense about everything!

My system for dealing with important financial records has changed over the years. I used to keep everything in the home office, but now that my office is upstairs, I keep things in the kitchen. I have several places or ways of keeping all the daily, weekly, monthly, and annual paperwork.

For the daily/weekly stuffy like bills, I have a "home" binder with pocket folders for each month. As bills come in, I put them in the appropriate folder. Once or twice a week, after DS is in bed, I sit down at the dining table and write out the bills and balance my books. I keep the checkbook, pen, extra envelops, stamps, and calculator, in a decorative planter on my kitchen counter. This way it’s all together and I don’t have to hunt for what I need to take care of the bills. After I write the bill, I record the check number and amount on the bill stub as well as my checkbook. I keep the stubs in the home binder under the appropriate month.

I have a small wire hanging file box/basket for important files (daycare receipts, coupons and rebates, medical receipts, tax-related files, or whatever you need to keep available) that need to be maintained throughout the year. I like the hanging file, because it’s easier to keep organized and find what I need over a flat/stacking file system. I try to make a point of putting important documents in the right file folders as I get them. At minimum, I file things that pile up on the kitchen counter once a week. I keep the file basket and the binder in a kitchen cabinet, out of sight, but convenient enough that I will keep up with it.

In the basement I have a large 4-drawer file cabinet where I store old paper work. All our financial documents are in one drawer. I keep old checkbooks and ledgers in there too. The other three drawers have professional work-related documents. At the end of each year, I move all the year’s documents from the "home" binder and kitchen file to the basement, in order to make space for the new year in the binder and basket file.

Just last Sunday I spent two hours purging old financial documents from 2000 and older out of the file cabinet in the basement. I did this because I was starting to run out of storage space in my file cabinet and I wanted there to be room for this year’s stuff at the end of December. I kept all our tax documents, but I didn’t think there was a need to keep things like my electric bills from 2000.

To make an organization system I recommend purchasing: file folders, a binder with pocket folders, a small hanging file box/basket, and some file-system for "deep storage" of documents from past years (such as a small file cabinet). Look for file folders and binders cheap at the dollar store. You might find sales for file boxes, binders, and folders this time of year at office stores. File cabinets can be purchased used at thrift stores or at university salvage.
Good luck!
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#215 of 239 Old 11-25-2008, 05:24 PM
 
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On simplifying: This semester I finished a phd I've been working on for years. It is so freeing to not have that hanging over my head. On the other hand it's opened a new can of worms: what do I do for work?I can no longer pretend like I'm deciding what to do. I'm back to work full time and it is surely making life a bit trickier. BUT paying off debt with each paycheck lets me know that down the rooad it could get easier.

This semester has been totally nuts (job, kids, life, degree), so I aspire to spend the first of the new year deep cleaning a room per day. We live in a 3 bedroom house, but I feel like stuff gets everyplace and honestly the less stuff the less hassle. My dh isn't as good at putting away the kids stuff, so it ends up a jumbled mess.

Paying off debt is not only freeing because now I can choose how to spend my money (not shovel off money for something I chose a long time ago) but its also freeing because its one less envelope to open and deal with each month.

My paperwork system:
  • binder for important stuff like doctor's records, vet stuff, phone lists, etc.
  • box for "Deal with this week" paper
  • notebook (composition style) for all notes pertaining to finances -- if I call to check balances at the bank, I write it down there. If I plan out how much something is going to cost, I write it there.
  • file bin for folders of old records (7 years of taxes, old cc statements, etc).
  • For other stuff: warrantees, etc. I have a box above my desk that it gets shoved into.

Kristin -- mom of Erin (11/5/02) and Leah (9/29/05)
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#216 of 239 Old 11-25-2008, 07:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I find voluntary simplicity is about doing without so this year we are doing something craaaazy for Christmas- we are doing only one family gift.

See I feel guilty about it because I believe you have to wake up to a room full of presents but I am trying to get over that. The family gift is a family pass to The Living Desert. I will be stuffing the girl's stockings with little things (and may find some kids books about desert life as I want to get back to the nature around us) like goodies and maybe knitting needles for my 5 year old and something small like that for my 2 others.

All I can think is what if they grow up and hate me?

Maggie, blissfully married mama of 5 little ladies on my own little path. homeschool.gif gd.gifRainbow.gif
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#217 of 239 Old 11-25-2008, 11:18 PM
 
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Ive joined a voluntary simplicity group and Ive been really enjoying myself. I've also been going back and forth like a few other posters of if I should return to a paying job. As of now,I am a SAHM to a 4 yr old. Although we have a good amount of debt,I feel that its more important to be at home with my ds. I'll wait until he starts school to pursue a job.These are precious years. Until then, I am purging,trying to make a few of my gifts this holiday season,and trying to keep myself out of the stores. I do love Etsy though

For Christmas,Ive been adopting the model of the 4 somethings. It was posted on here a few yrs ago:

Something you want
Something you need
Something to wear
Something to read

I'll continue with the model since it fits in perfectly for what I believe in.

Sometimes I even double the item. For example this year I'm getting my dh a shirt with words on it so he can read it and wear it.

Still trying to get more organized.
I need to pack away the summer clothes and go through the winter ones.

I try to sell clothes to a kids consignment place to pick up new things or I will give clothes to children I know.

Right now, we are planning on giving my son a " big boy bed" and decorating his room in a Spider Man theme. My husband is a cartoonist so he's going to draw on the walls. I'm going to make the curtains and probably sell a bunch of things on eBay to pay for sheets and a blanket.


Glad to read everyone's tips and how they are practicing reducing,reusing etc.
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#218 of 239 Old 11-25-2008, 11:25 PM
 
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On simplifying: This semester I finished a phd I've been working on for years.[/LIST]
Congratulations!

I'm trying to get that loose end tied up next semester.
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#219 of 239 Old 11-26-2008, 02:36 PM
 
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I'm trying to get that loose end tied up next semester.
LOL that "loose end" took me 8 years (+ 2 for my m.s.).

On gifts: my kids (6 and 3) don't know the "giant christmas pile o crap" that was my christmas as a child. But they do know that on Christmas we have loads of fun together as a family -- we usually do a craft/project of some kind, we play a game, we spend time making something for each person. It's a good time, truly without the gifts. And it is so freeing to be able to wrap christmas gifts in 10 minutes

Kristin -- mom of Erin (11/5/02) and Leah (9/29/05)
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#220 of 239 Old 11-26-2008, 02:46 PM
 
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LOL that "loose end" took me 8 years (+ 2 for my m.s.).
Don't worry...it's been, 9 years in progress for me :. The first four were spent on my MS and the last five have been solely the PhD. It seems like an eternity sometimes! Especially since I was able to earn two BA's in only four years. But then again, I wasn't married and didn't have any kids when I was working on my BA's .
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#221 of 239 Old 11-26-2008, 02:56 PM
 
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Right now, we are planning on giving my son a " big boy bed" and decorating his room in a Spider Man theme. My husband is a cartoonist so he's going to draw on the walls. I'm going to make the curtains and probably sell a bunch of things on eBay to pay for sheets and a blanket.
Very cool! I have been slowly transitioning DS's room from babyhood to toddlerhood. I painted animals and framed them for his baby room and it had a "safari" sort of theme.

Right now he is into "planes, trains, and automobiles", so I plan to paint clouds on the light blue walls and hang kites and airplanes from the ceiling (I haven't done it yet, but I have all the supplies to do it soon). I have made some new artwork. I can't paint cars, but I painted scenery, then carefully cut out photos of his grandparents kayaking, DH on his motorcycle, and his other grandparents off-roading in their Jeep and added them to the painting. I think the result is really cool and DS was excited when I framed them (I'll try to add a photo link when I get a chance). I sewed shear curtains with fabric that is a blue sky with puffy white clouds. I also found some "cloud" sheets at the thrift store for a couple bucks. Eventually we will convert his toddler bed into a full-size bed...but this may be a couple months away. I've got to save up for a mattress first.
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#222 of 239 Old 11-28-2008, 01:08 AM
 
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We never buy anything new (except for underwear and socks). However, we have everything we need and then some. We need to stop going to the thrift store to see what bargains we can find. Just because something is second-hand and a great deal doesn't mean we should get it. It's become entertainment for us to go there. So we need to stop that and finish going through what we already have. Next year we will have a food garden. We are also trying to be aware of everything we do-as to whether it's wasteful. Wasting our time, energy, money, earths resouces, etc....I think living simply is an ongoing journey and constant battle at times.
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#223 of 239 Old 11-28-2008, 08:03 PM
 
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Subbing! Great thread!

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to DD 1dust.gif & DD 2energy.gif & engaged to DFpartners.gif

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#224 of 239 Old 11-29-2008, 11:57 AM
 
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I'm subbing now and slowly, slowly making my way through this thread (not much time these days!).

We are a family of almost 6 (babe #4 should be earth-side very, very soon). At around 1300 sq ft, our house is HUGE compared to what we were living in just a year ago. With the extra size, we also seem to have accumulated a lot of random little things that I don't necessarily want about. Where does it come from anyway?!? I'm nesting these days and trying to par down, reorganize and generally make things more home-y.

I think that we live very mindfully in general. Due to circumstances, we are really, really strapped financially right now and needing to be even more creative with repurposing things and making due with what we have. It's a little scary, but also kind of exciting in an odd way. It's kind of a thrill to be able to create and care for ourselves with little means.
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#225 of 239 Old 11-29-2008, 09:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've asked before (somewhere around here) but I want to throw this out there again- is anyone interested in starting a Simple Living/Voluntary Simplicity blogring?
Blogs so inspire me and having a blogring with all the SL mamas would just rock!

Maggie, blissfully married mama of 5 little ladies on my own little path. homeschool.gif gd.gifRainbow.gif
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#226 of 239 Old 12-09-2008, 03:38 PM
 
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subbing --- and continuing to live in intentionally-simple ways...

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#227 of 239 Old 12-09-2008, 07:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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What's everyone's plans for the holidays?

Maggie, blissfully married mama of 5 little ladies on my own little path. homeschool.gif gd.gifRainbow.gif
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#228 of 239 Old 12-09-2008, 08:46 PM
 
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I've asked before (somewhere around here) but I want to throw this out there again- is anyone interested in starting a Simple Living/Voluntary Simplicity blogring?
Blogs so inspire me and having a blogring with all the SL mamas would just rock!
Yes!

Come visit us on Tangled Hill! One small family in a big, big world.
Peace through homemaking.
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#229 of 239 Old 12-09-2008, 09:13 PM
 
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What's everyone's plans for the holidays?
Finances are really tight this year, so I'm looking forward to a reasonable Christmas with no presents charged to credit cards! Usually we have way too big an influx of STUFF, and I'm hoping that will be less of an issue this year. (A benefit of the economic downturn?)

I don't like rolling out and cutting sugar cookies, so we bought some break apart cookie dough and made round cookies that ds decorated. We're also going to try something new and make a gingerbread house from a kit.

We're going to look at Christmas lights this week--2 weeks before Christmas--instead of close to Christmas when everyone is out looking at lights. Less traffic stress.

I love turning off all the lights and watching the Christmas tree lights at night. It's a peaceful, happy ritual for me.

Book-lovin', relaxed homeschoolin', dog snugglin' mom of the best kid EVER!  AND...waiting for baby #2, due 5/9/14!  stork-boy.gif

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#230 of 239 Old 12-10-2008, 04:38 PM
 
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I've asked before (somewhere around here) but I want to throw this out there again- is anyone interested in starting a Simple Living/Voluntary Simplicity blogring?
Blogs so inspire me and having a blogring with all the SL mamas would just rock!
I'll start a thread to see if there's enough interest.

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#231 of 239 Old 12-10-2008, 09:51 PM
 
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I'm going to have to come back here and read everything on this this thread shortly.

I'm pretty new to the core ideals of simplicity. That doesn't mean I'm new to frugality or being environmentally friendly, per say, but that I think I'm finally ready to take things to another level. It started out because I realized just how much I need to get my financial issues together-I'm someone that can nickel and dime herself into a serious hole if I'm not careful and do the thrift/spend cycle like there's no tomorrow. Then ontop of that I read the book Affluenza, which I highly recommend. I realized that while I thought I was doing really well, there are some things that could definitely use improving and I'd be a lot happier and healthier in the long run if I made some changes. I've been going through my house and making a big purge (at the same time I want to stop this, I'm pretty good at not being a hoarder, but I want to stop the buying just to get rid of it cycle all together). I'm doing a compact year with a group on another forum I frequent. I also recently donated a lot of cosmetics so that when I use up the last of these ones I really enjoy I'll be able to buy all earth friendly and hopefully local products (I'm also hoping to have my mom teach me to make soaps as well). It's getting easier to stay out of stores, and easier to spend my time crafting and reading, and cooking.

I came up with an ideal budget for my family, which actually includes charity donations and savings! I'll be having our first child any time now, and I really want to make these changes and improvements so that I can be a better model for our daughter.
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#232 of 239 Old 12-11-2008, 12:14 PM
 
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Subbing.
what does this mean? thanks!

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#233 of 239 Old 12-11-2008, 12:24 PM
 
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what does this mean? thanks!
Subscribing to the thread.

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#234 of 239 Old 12-11-2008, 01:05 PM
 
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Subscribing to the thread.
ooh thanks. yeah, me too.... subbing!

want to learn more about simplifying. i found a great book but it's huge. seemed sort of silly to buy a big book on simplifying . oh the irony.

can't wait to learn more!

do folks have some resolutions regarding simplifying? i'd love to hear what they are.

: blogging about life, beauty, crafting, healing, waldorf...

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#235 of 239 Old 12-12-2008, 09:19 AM
 
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I do have some resolutions, but basically it's about embracing simplicity and a more sustainable life, financially and environmentally. My resolutions include sticking to our ideal budget and hopefully even improving on it, buying only local our secondhand products (within reason, of course, but buying the most environmentally friendly at all times), learning to be more self sufficient, and doing volunteer work (I think that getting your mind in the right place greatly helps kill that affluenza bug, kwim?)
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#236 of 239 Old 12-12-2008, 02:31 PM
 
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I have been working this whole year on decluttering our house. It really all started because life was so complicated and frustrating. I am so much happier now that I can actually live in my house comfortably. I still have some final touches to do and I am striving to do that before we go to my parents for Christmas. I need to get rid of some of the girls toys, a few more unused clothes, and I think that I am going to completely redo my kitchen storage and get rid of some stuff that we really do no use and will not use.

I really felt good a few weeks ago when a neighbor came over and complimented how cleaned and organized my house was. The girls still had toys on the floor that they were playing with and my house was not spotless, but it looked and feels good because because we had simplified and gotten rid of so many things.

I just can't wait until I feel like I am more in maintenance mode.
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#237 of 239 Old 12-13-2008, 05:41 AM
 
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I got a lot of organizing done today, and I didn't even set out to! I have a short list on things I want to accomplish before baby makes three-basically some much needed housekeeping, nothing major. One thing on my list was to put up the laundry. Well, it turned into me doing a major purge and reorganization. I put a lot of pre pregnancy clothes up (since baby dropped I can fit into most of my old clothes-yay for that!) and then it turned into generally looking at my wardrobe, etc. I got rid of a huge box of clothes-I'm letting my family look through it and then it goes to the mission. I also ended up giving up my drawer in our dresser to put all of my clothes neatly in the closet-now I see exactly what I have and hubs has some more room for his stuff.

I also managed to get rid of a few other odds and ends I saw in the closet, go through my craft and recipes folders (they were in the closet, but now are moved to more proper places-eventually I want to find a more suitable organization of them, but getting rid of tons of unneeded paper was a great feeling!) and address the Christmas cards I'm doing a swap with. I feel really good about my day! Now I'll probably head to bed and read some more about simplicity and getting back to basics!
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#238 of 239 Old 12-15-2008, 08:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My resolution is to focus on simplicity and keep thinking I need to buy xyz and more importantly QUIT BUYING IT!!!!! It will mostly be an exercise of will power.

Maggie, blissfully married mama of 5 little ladies on my own little path. homeschool.gif gd.gifRainbow.gif
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#239 of 239 Old 12-16-2008, 11:25 AM
 
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*subbing*

Me: Shannon (33) mom to DD Everly born May 9, 2007 and Maisie born May 26
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