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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Goodbye February, Hello March.

I love the feeling of a fresh month. I know we get them twelve times a year, but I still think they feel so new and full of possibility and motivation every time they roll around. 

So cheers to sending February off and welcoming March with lots of motivation and sunshine.  

Goodbye, February.

Goodbye, three days of winter. You tried, Florida, you tried. 

Goodbye, going to the store for cleaning supplies. This may not seem like a big deal, but I'm married to someone who works with disgusting stuff in the hospital before coming home, and I have a toddler and a dog. Read: I use a lot of cleaning supplies. I just found out that my favorite Target brand of cleaner (Method) is also sold on Amazon. 

If you're a cleaning supplies junkie like me, this is my favorite one. It makes your house smell like a margarita, so, yes. This one also makes everything smell so fresh and clean.

Goodbye, feeling guilty for not getting more stuff done. I am so over this. I've decided to just stop. I'll let you know if that's how it actually works. If you're in the same boat with me, let me tell you what I've been repeating to myself: If you are doing your best, you are doing enough. There will always be more to do, but spending time feeling guilty only wastes the time that you do have.

Hello, March. 

Hello, toddlerhood. Jack can walk now and I don't think it will ever get old or stop being funny. Last night, Chris and I were walking from one room to another and Jack just got up and started walking with us. I laughed so hard, because it just seems so weird! Just three humans walking into a room. I don't think that's going to stop being weird to me anytime soon. 

Hello, thankfulness. I kind of touched on this yesterday, but I'm really working hard to make this a season of thankfulness. Our lifestyle (read: Chris being in residency), makes it very easy to be negative and overwhelmed. Really, any lifestyle makes it easy to focus on those things. I think it's up to us to shift our focus and think about the good things, the happy things, the thankful things. Or it's up to me, at least. So I will. 

Hello, vacation planning. We are within three months, people. Time to start planning! Any suggestions for good vacations in May/June when you have a one-year-old? 

What are you saying goodbye and hello to this month?
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Monday, February 27, 2017

What February Taught Me.

It's so important to stop and remember the good. desperately wanted to stay in Florida. I so badly wanted to be able to buy a house. I craved a backyard, a pool, a safe neighborhood where I could take Jack for walks in his cute little tricycle...and I got every single one of those things. 

I enjoy those things every single day. But I don't pause nearly enough to remember that a year ago, I didn't have those things. I don't stop to remember how badly I wanted all of this and how amazing it is that it all happened. But when I do...when I stop and reflect and am truly thankful for all of this, it completely changes my attitude and perspective. It makes me happier, it makes it hard to be upset about things, and it reminds me how good life is. 

There's so much good in our lives, and we need to pause to fully notice it every now and then. 

You can't make everyone happy, and sacrificing your own happiness to try to do that is not worth it. See also: It's not your job to make everyone happy. It is your job to make yourself happy. Work on that instead. 

Saving money is way easier when you have a reason. I got a taste of this when we were getting ready to move to Gainesville. In Orlando, we lived downtown, walking distance from 100 happy hours and shops and ways to spend money. The last few months we lived there, I'd say, "We can go get dinner and drinks, or we could get furniture for our new back yard!" When you put it that way, it's easy. 

Chris has his vacation time coming up and since time together is so rare and so precious, I know I want to make the most of it. So since the beginning of the year I've been saving for our vacation. And even though the stores are full of new spring clothes and I want all of them, it's been so easy to save money, because I think, "I could easily spend $200 in this store, or I could save that and make our vacation that much better." I hope that makes sense and I'm not just rambling. Bottom line: If you give yourself an actual reason to save money (not just doing it for the sake of being responsible), it's way easier. 

What did this month teach you?
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Friday, February 24, 2017

Books I Read in February (& Whether or Not You Should Read Them).

I only read two books this month, which is really low for me. My work really kicked into high gear this month and Jack kicked it into toddler gear and I just really favored sleep over reading. But still, two good books-I can't complain!

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Plot: An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love.

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don's Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

The Rosie Project is a moving and hilarious novel for anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of overwhelming challenges. -Via Goodreads

Favorite quote: 

My thoughts: This book was so adorable. It was a quick and easy but super entertaining read. I don't think I've ever read a book similar to this, and the main character (narrator) was one of my favorites ever. It goes into deep things, reminding us that being ourselves really is the best, flaws and all, but still manages to stay light and hilarious. I loved it.

Should you read it? Yes! 

The Hypnotist's Love Story by Liane Moriarty

Plot: Ellen O’Farrell is a professional hypnotherapist who works out of the eccentric beachfront home she inherited from her grandparents. It’s a nice life, except for her tumultuous relationship history. She’s stoic about it, but at this point, Ellen wouldn’t mind a lasting one. When she meets Patrick, she’s optimistic. He’s attractive, single, employed, and best of all, he seems to like her back. Then comes that dreaded moment: He thinks they should have a talk. 

Braced for the worst, Ellen is pleasantly surprised. It turns out that Patrick’s ex-girlfriend is stalking him. Ellen thinks, Actually, that’s kind of interesting. She’s dating someone worth stalking. She’s intrigued by the woman’s motives. In fact, she’d even love to meet her.

Ellen doesn’t know it, but she already has.
 -Via Goodreads

Favorite quote: 

My thoughts: We all know I have a (very healthy) obsession with Liane Moriarty. However, if you compare this book with her other thrillers (The Husband's Secret or Big Little Lies), you're going to be disappointed. I kept waiting for a big twist or scary mystery (because Liane, duh) but it's not that kind of book. I still really enjoyed it, but I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I hadn't been expecting it to be like her other books. 

Should you read it? Yes.

What have you read this month?
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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

I Always Want to Remember 2017: Part Two.

Because the little, everyday moments are worth celebrating. 

Any month with a trip to the ocean is a good, good month. I always want to remember how lucky we are to live so close to something so amazing, and how it was truly the deepest desire of my heart to get to stay in Florida, and now here we are. 

I don't know why I find this picture so freaking funny, but he just looks so proper and disappointed with his breakfast selection. I always want to remember how hilarious it has been to watch his tiny, giant personality develop.

I found a new love of my life this month and its name is Lacroix. (Those flamingo straws are a close second. Okay, fine. It's a tie.)  I always want to remember pool days in February when everyone else was posting snow day pictures. 

This is what Target runs look like lately. Not pictured: Him pointing and yelling at everyone we walked past, like they better get the heck out of his store. It's not his fault, the kid probably thinks Target is his second home. I always want to remember how proud he is of his ability to stand up in the cart. 

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm okay calling pretty much anywhere home just as long as there are palm trees around. I always want to remember how lucky I am to have these right down the street...a little piece of my beach home right here in Gainesville. 

That bedhead, though. I always want to remember how funny he is right when he wakes up.

Sometimes, when Jack gets really tired, he still falls asleep on me like a newborn. I love every single second of it, but I do have some weird tan lines. I always want to remember these sweet days where all he wants to do is hang out with me.

Jack walks now. Which means I find him in places like this. Also, it catches me off guard that he just walks around the house, and sometimes he'll walk into the room and it's terrifying because I'm used to him crawling on the floor. I always want to remember his first full month of walking, toddling around, swaying and stumbling and giggling like a little drunk person. 


My favorite reading place. (The Rosie Project was adorable). I always want to remember how nice and refreshing it is to just take a break and read a good book.

My favorite pool day partner. I always want to remember how lucky I am to have a baby who loves pool days just as much as I do. 

Alllll my love for this one right here. I don't think I'm in any danger of forgetting this, but I always want to remember what it feels like to love someone so much that it hurts.

What do you always want to remember about this month?

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Everything Your Newborn Baby Needs For Less Than $600.

First, let's clarify: This title is slightly misleading, because I'm not including clothes, diapers + wipes, or formula. The first because chances are, everyone you've ever known will buy you baby clothes because it's a cheap and adorable baby gift. The second two because those are monthly expenses, and the things I'm including here are necessities that you would buy before the baby gets here. 

Secondly, this is not a dream list. No gorgeous crib or handmade sheets off of etsy or toys. Are those things wonderful? Absolutely. And I hope you have a wonderful baby shower and people buy you all the extravagant things. We were so blessed and were able to get a lot of "extra" things like that, but before that happened, I made a list of everything we might need and how much those things would cost. 

Within twelve months of finding out I was pregnant, Chris had to apply for residency interviews (expensive), travel to all the interviews (SO expensive), I had to actually have the baby (hospital bills), we had to buy a baby-friendly car, pack up our apartment, and buy a house. Also, getting pregnant was a surprise, so there was no baby fund anywhere. So when I say we tried to do things on a budget, you can trust that I truly researched and shopped around and budgeted like it was my job. 

So now, having gone from finding out I was having a baby and knowing nothing about what I needed, to having a perfectly happy and healthy one-year-old, here are the things I would say are necessary and can fill the gaps of other, more expensive things. 

Pack 'n Play: $79
Works as a crib, as a play area, as a changing space, and you can pack it up and bring it anywhere with you. Jack still sleeps in this whenever we travel anywhere.

Rock 'n Play: $54
Budget post or not, I still consider this an absolute necessity. It's the only thing that helped my baby sleep more than 90 minutes at a time. MAGIC.

Swing: $70

Swaddle cloths: $35
These work for everything. Swaddles, blankets, spit-up clothes, breastfeeding covers, etc, etc. There are cheaper options, but these are the ones I have and they have survived 13 months of use and washes.

Sleeper Swaddles: $14
These have velcro so the little bubs can't break out at night. I tried the more expensive one everyone raves about online and found no magic difference.

Breast pump: $140 (Storage bags: $8) 
Yes. So glamorous, and so necessary (if you're going to breastfeed).

Bottles: $6
I bought 5 different kinds of fancy bottles before finding these. NINE BOTTLES FOR $6. They're Jack's favorite. Moral of the story: Sometimes you should start with the cheap stuff. 

Shampoo/soap/lotion: $8
Buy a gift set of these, it comes with all three. You don't need a lot because babies are tiny so these bottles last forever.

Diaper Rash Paste: $ 7
This stuff is gold, works like a charm, and also lasts forever.

Car seat/Stroller Combo: $169
Being able to click the car seat right into the stroller is a lifesaver and makes things so much more convenient.

Pacifiers: $3

Of course you'll end up getting more things than this. I hope you get every tiny, adorable little thing your baby-loving heart wishes for. But I know that when I was pregnant and price-checking, it would have made me feel so much better to know I could afford the basics. $600 is not cheap, but when you google what you need for your new baby and every list recommends a $250 baby swing, $600 is a steal. 

It's totally possible to go without here. A diaper genie is awesome, but if you can't afford one, you can put diapers in old grocery bags before tossing them in the trash. A crib is ideal, but a pack 'n play can totally work. A playmat is fun, but you can use a blanket for now. And on, and on, and on. See? You don't have to be rich to have a baby, trust me.

I'll blog soon about all the fun, "extra" stuff we bought and loved, but for now, just know that you can afford this. It doesn't have to be trendy, it doesn't have to be pinterest-perfect.  You've got this. 

If you have a baby, what would you say is absolutely necessary?
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Monday, February 20, 2017

Some of The Best Advice I've Ever Received.

If you don't quit, you can't lose. My dad has said this as long as I can remember. He used to joke that it's the only way he could get out of losing a game of basketball with his older brother: He'd just keep playing way too long until his brother was over it. 

Seriously, though: You won't lose if you don't quit. You might get rejected or have a big failure or make giant mistakes, but as long as you keep trying, you're not a loser. 

Marriage is about teamwork. I can't remember who first said this to me, but it's absolutely true. Successful relationships are not 50/50, just as no successful team is 50/50 100% of the time. On a team, you want the other person to be successful, because their success is your success. You want to support them however you can, because a win for them is a win for you. That's what marriage should look like. 

Don't give pigs your pearls. My mom used to say this to me in regards to bad friends, and I thought it was some cheesy southern saying (that's what it sounds like, right?). Turns out, it's actually from a verse in the Bible that says Don't toss your pearls before swine. If you give a pig a pearl necklace, it won't have any appreciation for it. It will step on it, get it dirty, and leave it broken and forgotten in the mud. 

In the same way, you shouldn't share your life with people who don't appreciate you. Don't let people in who don't care about you. Because they will step on your trust, trample over your secrets, and leave you hurt and forgotten. Use your judgment about who you share the important parts of your life with. 

If you don't like your life, change it. This has been a big one for me over the past few years. I've learned that you don't have to change your entire life to get happiness, you can just change little areas at a time. 

Don't feel rested at home? Declutter and redecorate. Don't like your job? Look for a new one. In the meantime, find a hobby you love to do on the side. Don't like the way you feel? Change your eating habits. Nothing about you is stuck. You have the power to change your life. 

Bitterness is a pill you swallow hoping it will effect someone else. In general, I'm not a bitter person. I'm very forgiving (sometimes too much), but if you hurt someone I love, I will hold a grudge forever. Forever.

I have to remind myself of this piece of advice often. Because laying awake at night, thinking about how awful of a person someone is until I have a stomach ache affects that awful person approximately 0%. Letting go of bitterness doesn't excuse what someone did. It's what's best for you. 

You will never be better than everyone else, but if you try, you are automatically better than everyone who doesn't try. So much of life can feel like an invitation to compare yourself to others, and it's so easy to feel like you're losing. There's always going to be better blogs than yours, there's always going to be a better manager, assistant, teacher, accountant, insert-your-job-here than you are. There's better writers than you, better moms than you, better Instagramers than you. But if you try, if you get started and go for it and stick with it, you are better than everyone else who didn't try. You've already got a leg up. 

Happy Monday, friends. It's a fresh new week. Chug some coffee, throw on some lipstick,and go for it. Make this week a good one. 

What's some of the best life advice you've ever received? 

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Friday, February 17, 2017

If We Were Having Coffee.

Affiliate links ahead. Disclosure here.
Happy Friday! It's cool enough here to have the windows open while I curl up and drink coffee (but will be warm enough by this afternoon to go to the pool, which is the perfect day), and it seems like the perfect time to have a little coffee date. 

So, if we were having coffee. . .

. . .I'd ask your opinion on audio books. People seem pretty split on this one. Sometimes I'll write about an audiobook and it seems like I get 18 comments saying HOW DARE YOU LISTEN TO A BOOK INSTEAD OF READ IT SHAMEONYOU. Kind of a weird thing to the angry about, but you do you babe. Personally, I'd rather listen to a book than music when I drive, and like I said in Tuesday's post, actually reading while driving is frowned upon, soooo. Where do you stand on the issue? 

Ps: If you don't know yet, if you sign up for a free trial of audible, you get two free audiobooks so you can decide if it's your thing or not before paying for it. That's what I did and now I'm hooked.

. . .I'd ask if you watch This is Us. And if so, do you have any pieces of your heart left, or are they all shattered?

. . .I'd ask what you love most about where you live. It's pretty obvious by what I write on here and also from my instagram pictures, but I'm obsessed with living in Florida. I love, love, love it. I love the weather, the fact that pool days are a year-round thing, I love the town we live in. I think everyone should love where they live. What's your favorite thing about where you live?

. . .I'd tell you that planning our summer vacation has me wanting to make my day-to-day life feel more like vacation. Looking up destination and pinning things on pinterest, I've noticed that the bright colors and tropical themes just make me happy, and it makes me want to bring more of those things into my everyday life. This banner says Let's Flamingle.I'm gonna need that. Also on the agenda: Fish tacos and pina coladas for dinner every night. I mean, that might be a little overboard, but I could start with some tropical decorations and a pineapple candle. And that banner. Because FLAMINGLE. 

Happy Friday, friends! 
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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Work Hard & Be Nice to People.

here's one that's somewhat similar. (affiliate link, disclosure)

I got this sign at Francesca's a few years ago because it's a good reminder of what's important in life.

We've all heard this said before, but it's true: It costs you nothing to be kind. 

I had a crappy day yesterday. My day started at 5:00 and by 6:00 it was obvious that I was going to be drowning in work all day. Jack had his first injury that involved blood (he's fine, but the first time that happens is terrifying). A freak, twenty-minute wind storm happened that picked up our hammock and used it to take out our string lights and pots. Just weird things all day. 

But it was just a bad day! Totally fine. I was going to keep working my to-do list and being productive and just powering through all the weird crap that kept happening. 

And then I got an email. And it wasn't an outright mean email, or someone purposefully trying to hurt me. It was just a little bit rude. And it was the one little thing that just pushed me right over the edge and made me want to give up and go back to bed and try again tomorrow. 

Guys, I raged over this email. I huffed and puffed and put all of my feelings from the whole day onto this one email. I thought, it would have taken them no time at all to word this in a nice way. It would have taken nothing from them to choose to be kind, and then I wouldn't be having this kind of afternoon. 

And then I thought, I wonder how many times it would have cost me nothing to be kind, and I just wasn't. 

The truth is, I can't blame my bad day on this one email. But I can choose to learn from it. I can choose to add kindness in where it doesn't automatically grow. 

In my rushed email responses, I can be kind. When someone goes above and beyond, instead of just saying thank you, I can tell them I think they did a great job. When someone writes a killer blog post, I can take 3 seconds to tell them so. When I know someone's had a hard day, I can ask them about it. See where I'm going here? Quick email responses and saying thank you and not mentioning a blog post and not asking about someone's day doesn't make me rude, not at all. But those things cost me nothing, and could really turn someone else's day around. 

So PSA: Be nice to people. It's the right thing to do. All the decent humans are doing it. And if you wanna get really crazy, go all in and add a little extra kindness. It costs you nothing and you might even find you like doing it. 
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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

3 Things You Need to Know About.

This post contains affiliate links: full disclosure here.
1. This stress relief tea. Oh. My. Goodness. I love this tea. This tea deserves a valentine. This tea deserves all the valentines. You know how when you have a glass of wine, you feel relaxed, but you also start to feel foggy, groggy, and sleepy? I realize those three words are basically the same but I felt they all needed to be present here. This tea lets you sip on something relaxing without making you foggy (or groggy or sleepy). It's magical. Just the smell of it makes me feel like I'm defusing some sort of anti-stress aroma. It's so good, it's so cheap, and you need it.

2. This kettlebell workout. Two weeks ago I decided I wanted to up my game a little bit with my weight workouts. And by up my game, I mean graduate from the 3-pound weights that I've had since I was in high school. So I went to Marshall's and picked out a kettlebell. I probably should have taken it as a bad sign that I struggled to get it from the bottom of the cart to the checkout counter, but I have too much pride to turn back, so I bought it.

I came home and googled kettlebell workouts and got approximately ten thousand videos spending thirty-two minutes teaching me the proper way to lift a kettlebell (no thank you), forty-seven thousand videos that were actually just ten second clips enticing me to drive to the store and buy a workout video that probably isn't even made anymore (also no), and approximately six million videos of tiny Victoria Secret model look-alikes who were secretly the Hulk and gave advice like "Now just go for a breezy seven mile jog with your kettlebell and follow that up with 84 jumping jacks with two kettlebells" (biggest no of all).

 But then I found this one, and it's perfect. Jillian low-key terrifies me in the best of ways, and anyone with abs like that surely knows what they are doing.

Pros: It's a full-body workout and cardio. Cons: I think my legs are probably going to fall off soon. You win some, you lose some.

3. Sweet potato chips+ guac. This is my favorite snack right now. First, the brand of those chips is "The Garden of Eatin'" and I will never not find that funny. But also they are delicious and go SO WELL with guacamole. Best of all: They taste amazing with this guac, so you can just swing by Target on your way to the pool and pick up the perfect snack, no messy kitchen required.

Now you tell me: What do I need to know about?

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Love Story: Part One.

Valentine's Day does a few things for me. First, it makes me want to redo my entire house in pink and gold. Every trip to Target I take, I manage to convince myself that I would totally leave sparkly hearts up year-round and it would be totally fine. Second, it makes me want all the chocolate. All the chocolate. Third, it makes me sentimental and super cheesy. I want to go on all the dates, write all the love letters, watch all the sappy movies. 

It made me think that while I've shared bits and pieces of how Chris and I met and got together, I've never really talked about it all at once...and what better time to start that story than on Valentine's Day?

I met Chris when I was fifteen. We met at a Bible study where we found out we had a bunch of mutual friends. I thought he was so cute and fun (he was always laughing), but he had a girlfriend (BUZZKILL). To be fair, I had a kind of boyfriend (you know how these things go when you're 15), so we became casual friends and would spend the next two years hanging out every now and then since we knew the same group of people. And then, the summer of 2009 came. 

We started running into each other all the time. He and his 2 best friends were lifeguards at the beach right by where my friend lived, so it became an almost daily thing that we'd see each other when he was working. We became really good friends and had a lot of fun together. 

There's something magical about a summer by the beach right before everyone leaves for college. Adulthood is hovering close by, fall will be coming soon and sending everyone in different directions, and everything just seems more special somehow, like you need to draw it out just a little longer. Like you need to squeeze just a little bit more fun out of every day. It's the best (and absolute worst) time to fall head over heels in summer love with somebody. 

Since Chris and his friends worked on Sundays, they went to a church service on Saturday nights. I did not work on Sundays, but I still went with them a few times. I lived way down south, and the church was pretty far away, so I'd meet them at a little surf shop near Chris' house and leave my car there and ride with him and his friends. It was always fun, driving there with the windows down, listening to music and laughing at stories about everyone's day and going out to eat somewhere after. It was just fun. 

One weekend, Chris asked me if I wanted to come with them on Saturday night. I said yes. He told me that his friends couldn't go and it'd be just him, so he didn't mind driving all the way to my house to pick me up. For some reason, that made me panic. We were friends, we were having a really fun summer, and while we definitely had a flirty kind of thing going on, we hadn't really acknowledged it. I felt like him picking me up alone would somehow force that conversation, and I didn't like it. 

After calling my friend that sometimes went with us and finding out she was busy too, I realized I could either cancel on Chris (and he would know it was because I didn't want to hang out with him alone), or I could let him come pick me up (we're talking an extra 25 minutes both ways). I didn't like either option, so I made up some errand I had to run and said I'd meet him at the surf shop like normal. 

And then, fate intervened. 

And by fate, I mean my car. 

As I was pulling into the parking lot, my engine exploded. Okay, I'm sure that's not actually what happened, but that's what it sounded and felt like. I got there just in time for it to stop running completely. I called my dad who told me to go ahead with Chris and he'd go look at my car while we were gone. A few minutes into the church service, he texted me, car undrivable, see if he can drive you home. 

All that planning to avoid being alone in the car for too long with him, foiled by my car. 

Chris said he didn't mind driving me home but asked if it was okay if we went to dinner with some friends first.

And what followed that, my friends, ended up being one of the best nights of my whole life. But we'll get to that another time. 

Happy Valentine's Day! How did you meet your significant other?

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