Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's

Had a nice day with the family today. KJ & I were supposed to go to the movies w/ friends but they called today and said they just weren't up to and wanted to chill at home. So, we dragged Chris to the movies with us. We went to the Dollar theater to see Where the Wild Things Are. All I can say is it was a weird movie and definitely not for little kids. Max was basically a big brat. The movie was cinematically beautiful and the puppets/costumes were incredible.

After the movies we went to DSW so T could spend the gift card Grammie & Pop sent her for Christmas. She's been wanting some kind of cowboy boot/slouchy boots. She found what she wanted but the boots were much, much more than she wanted to spend. I had a $10 DSW rewards coupon in the car, she used her gift card and Chris gave her the rest in cash. She never, ever asks for anything so she kind of got a little post-Christmas bonus.

After DSW we ran into Target so KJ could use some of her Christmas gift cards. She's mentioned she wanted the Wii Fit (we got the Wii Active for Christmas from Santa) but the entire Wii section @ Target was totally wiped out. She ended up buy a DS game and the Mario Kart game for the Wii. She still has about $30 in Target cards.

Earlier today I read a blog post written by a friend whose opinion I admire and respect. The blog post is appropriately about New Year's and starting the year off right. A couple of things I agreed with, a couple (OK. ONE thing) I did not agree with. I can forgive a lot of folks for a lot of things. However, I can NOT forgive some one when they've attacked my child and then blatantly lied to my face about it. And then, if that wasn't bad enough, this individual has acted as if nothing happened. I would like to think that perhaps, as my blog-writing friend has suggested, that she didn't realize she did anything wrong. Unfortunately, in my heart of hearts, I know otherwise (because when I first asked her about it, she denied it. Then she said "maybe" she said something, she couldn't remember. Then, by the end of the conversation, she confirmed what she did but said "it was no big deal." I guess the size of the "deal" depends on which side you're on.). So, this year, I will be making a resolution to myself. I resolve I will no longer deal with Toxic Friends or Frenemies. I will be removing this individual from ALL aspects of my life so that I may thoroughly enjoy 2010. So, dear former friend. When we run into each other at social functions or high school sporting events, please do not act like we are best buddies. Do not confide in me with your vicious gossip (this applies to your husband as well; he is no better than you and constantly tries to engage Chris in conversations about who got who's girlfriend pregnant, who's been caught drinking, etc.). I/we (this includes Chris) could really care less. We are not perfect and God knows you've made major mistakes in your life. You, more than anyone, should not be judgemental.

So, having gotten all of that of my chest (thanks Witty Smitty! you're right! I do feel alot better), Happy New Year everyone! I wish you lots of love, lots of happiness, good health and prosperity.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Hope everyone had a wonderful, merry Christmas! Ours was quiet and relaxing. KJ originally woke up around 5:30 AM but Chris was able to convince her to go back to sleep. T came downstairs around 9 AM and I think we sat down to breakfast around 10:30 AM (I made that breakfast casserole I love so much!). KJ's big gift this year was a camera (and she LOVES it!). T's big gift was a new jacket that she's had her eye on. Chris & The Girls bought me a handpainted window I'd been jonesing for, some of my favorite Yankee Candles, new leather gloves (have no idea where the old pair went), some kind of gadget that is supposed to fix my Sirius radio (which reminds me...I have to call Best Buy to have it installed), a new Vera Bradley ornament, some new jammies and a couple of books I had wanted. The Girls & I bought Chris a blue-ray DVD player and some new movies. I also bought him a book his friend Rod co-wrote from Amazon but it won't be shipped until January 4th or so.

KJ developed one of her headaches later that afternoon so while she napped Chris, T & I watched a bunch of old family videos. So funny! It's sad that Chris's family doesn't get together for Christmas Eve they way they used to. Since Chris's dad passed away in November '98, we moved from Cincy to AL, Joe & Laurie moved to FL and then to SC and Chris's brother Drew passed away in October '08. Tony is still in Miami so the only one living near my mother-in-law is Chris's sister Lynn.

The day after Christmas we drove to ATL to spend the weekend w/ Chris's nephew Louis, his wife Melanie and their precious little girl Eva. We had so much fun and it was wonderful to spend time w/ them. Eva's a little cutie-patootie and I wish we got to see more of her. Mel & Lou are moving to New Orleans in April and I wish they would leave her w/ us for a long weekend or something while they house-hunt. She really liked Trixie and was not afraid of the dog at all. She kept calling Trixie the "puppy" and gave Trixie lots of kisses and hugs all weekend. Trixie was exceptionally well-behaved at their house and loved all the attention from Eva.

So tonight T & I are getting together w/ some friends for dinner at my favorite Mexican restaurant (basically the same ladies I got together with last week for a Dirty Santa party). Not sure what Chris & KJ plan to do. Maybe they'll start to dismantle some of the outside Christmas lights if it's not too cold out. Up North we always left our Christmas lights and decorations up until after "Little Christmas." Down here, everyone has taken their decorations down by the 27th, 28th the latest. You can't even tell there was a Christmas in my neighborhood.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Venus vs. Mars

I like to Facebook. I like to Blog. I like to Twitter. I've noticed a disturbing trend: there are a lot of profile names like: MomTo2Boys, AtlantaMommy, DesperateHousewife, MommyLikesWine, SassyMama, MyThreeSons, SouthernMama, etc. Very rarely do you see men on social networks with names like: ZachsDaddy, ProudPapa, or LifeWithDaughters, etc. Most men have usernames that are sports-related (i.e., NYJetsFan, YankeesRule, ROLLtideROLL) or an alleged sexual prowess (i.e., Big Daddy, ChickMagnet, etc.). Men seem to have no problem maintaining their identities. And why should they? They keep their names when they get married, their bodies don't betray them after they've had kids and they don't give up their careers when they've had a family.

So why do women do this? Have we lost our identities and can only gain respect by touting the many hats we wear? When you met a woman for the first time and ask her about herself, she usually responds with "Well, I've been married for 14 years and we have 2 daughters -- Emily (10) and Hannah (7)." When you ask a man about himself he usually says "I'm an accountant" or something along those lines.

I'm a lot of things to a lot of people -- daughter, wife, mother, neighbor, friend, etc. I am all those things but that's not all I am. Don't get me wrong. I love my husband, I love my kids but I will hopefully also have a life when my girls go off to college.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday Survey

Ten things you wish you could say to 10 different people (don't list names):

1. I will NEVER forgive you for the way you threw me under the bus this summer and totally betrayed me.

2. You are so wrapped up in your own life, you don’t even know me anymore.

3. You are such a good friend to me and I love you very much!

4. I think you are beautiful and amazing and you sell yourself short too often!

5. Stop worrying so much!

6. You dance to the beat of a different drummer and I love you for it.

7. You are so special to me and I love talking to you.

8. I miss you and wish I got to see you more often!

9. You are truly one of the most selfish, stupidest people I have ever met in my life.

10. I am so tired of hearing about how wonderful your kids are.

Nine things about yourself:

1. I have a wonderful husband and two beautiful daughters.

2. I love to read.

3. I will always remember where I came from and how I got here.

4. I love to travel.

5. I'm not much of a clothes horse but I love accessories, sexy shoes, designer handbags, expensive perfume and make-up.

6. I am a loyal and true friend.

7. I tell it like it is but do my best not to hurt any one's feelings.

8. I have so many layers to my personality but only show a few.

9. I am thankful for all I have.

Eight childhood memories:

1. Family charades.

2. Dance lessons and recitals.

3. Flashlight tag in the summer.

4. Lots of Kickball!

5. Cheerleading.

6. Summers at the swim club.

7. Samsondale.

8. Ice-skating at Low Tor.

Seven things that cross your mind a lot:

1. Taylor driving.

2. I need to go to church more!

3. I need to exercise more!

4. My Grandparents

5. Money

6. Remodeling/re-decorating I'd like to do.

7. Europe

Six ways to win your heart:

1. Make me laugh.

2. Be a good listener.

3. Indulge me everyone once in a while.

4. Be intelligent.

5. Be charming but not smarmy.

6. Love your family and mine.

Five turn offs:

1. Arrogance

2. Selfish people.

3. Strangers who don't respect my personal boundaries and stand way too close to me.

4. People who think their kids/husbands/dogs/houses/cars/whatever are better than everyone else's.

5. People who constantly talk about money.

Four things you'll never forget:

1. My wedding day

2. The birth of both of my daughters

3. 9/11

4. how precious and unpredictable life is!

Three wishes for your future:

1. A career I'm passionate about.

2. more family time!

3. Long life for all of my family!

Two things you want to do before you die:

1. Go back to my birthplace

2. Ride a gondola in Venice, Italy.

One confession:

1. I really wish I had gone to college!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Survey

"Please, another list?" Yes. Another list. I luv, luv luv hearing this kind of stuff from friends.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? both (depends on the gift and if it's easy to wrap)

2. Real tree or Artificial? prefer real, but we've had an artificial tree for years

3. When do you put up the tree? no specific date, whenever it gets done!

4. When do you take the tree down? usually after New Year's

5. Do you like eggnog? in very small doses

6. Favorite gift received as a child? anything Barbie! I loved Barbie!

7. Hardest person to buy for? my dad

8. Easiest person to buy for? T-bone

9. Do you have a nativity scene? yes

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? mail -- e-mailing a Christmas card is just tacky

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I'm going to take the 5th on this one

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Elf

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I kind of shop throughout the year but kick it into high gear early November

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I'm going to take the 5th on this one

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? my mom makes really great peanut butter cookies

16. Lights on the tree? we have colored lights but I would much rather have all white lights

17. Favorite Christmas song? Dominick the Italian Christmas Donkey

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? usually travel but will be staying home this year
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? yup

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Angel

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? we usually let the kids open up one small gift on Christmas Eve

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? the "gimmies"
23. Favorite ornament, theme, or color? well, I guess my decorating is all over the place: I have a Santa corner in the foyer, the kitchen is Snowmen and this year I've tried to decorate the tree with a red & white peppermint candy theme. We also have a tall skinny tree in the foyer filled with ornaments from our travels. Oh! and candles! I decorate with lots and lots of candles!

24. Favorite for Christmas Dinner? we usually do a spiral ham and we HAVE to have crescent rolls!

25. What do you want to do for Christmas this year? spend quality time with Chris & the girls

26. Favorite Christmas tradition growing up? I always liked going to Bear Mountain at the holidays when I was little. They used to have ski jumping, ice skating, a visit with Santa, etc.

27. Favorite tradition now? staying in on Christmas day and staying in our pj's all day long playing with our Christmas loot

28. Favorite Christmas Memory? see post titled "Christmas with the Kranks" /div>

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas with the Kranks

Chris & KJ are Christmas shopping for me tonight. I know Chris really wasn't in the mood, he's had a busy week so far and he's tired, but KJ really looks forward to having special time alone with him. It reminds me of when T was little and just the two of them would go shopping for my presents. One time, in Cincinnati, T was about 3 and she came running in the house and was SO excited! She said, "Mommy! Mommy! We bought you lots of presents!!!" Being the smart ass that I am, I jokingly said, "Oh yeah??? Whatcha' get me??" Well, she proceed to tell me. In great detail. Chris was SO mad!!! I guess he forgot to tell her it was a secret!

So, I'm 42 years old and have known Chris since I was 15 (you do the math). That's a lot of Christmas's together! Some have been wonderful, some have not. Some of my favorite, most memorable Christmas's would have to be:

-our very first married Christmas. God! We were so young (and SO skinny!). We had an apartment and felt so "grown-up" shopping for our first tree together. I'll have to dig up some photos. I think that was the year Chris gave me a day @ the Elizabeth Arden spa in the city AND a Fendi bag. I wore that bag TO DEATH!!!
-the Christmas I was pregnant with T. I was barely pregnant but it was still a very special time. Our living room in our house in NY had a vaulted ceiling so we had a HUGE tree that year. As a matter of fact, it was so large we actually had to tether it to the staircase railing. One night we heard a loud crash and sure enough....the tree had fallen over (that's when we decided to tie it to the railing.).
-T's first Christmas was also very special to me personally. All of our family was there to help us celebrate (my grandparents, my parents, my brother, Chris's mom & dad). She was not quite 6 months old and looked like a little China doll in her red velvet dress.
-The year we drove up North for Christmas and hit an absolute white-out in Knoxville. The girls were so excited to see snow, we pulled into the first hotel we could find and they made snow angels right then and there in the parking lot.
-KJ will tell you that last Christmas was especially nice because she got Trixie just a couple of days before Christmas.
-Believe it or not, I actually think the Christmas right after 9/11 was especially memorable. We went home to NY and went into the city for the night with my folks. It was bitter, bitter cold but crystal clear and I honestly never felt more safe. There was also an incredible sense of patriotism in the air, there was a feeling of togetherness, of "one-ness". There was still plenty of horrible sadness but there was also a wonderful feeling of "family." Like you could tell people were making it a point to be with their loved ones. We took the girls to the Bronx Zoo to see the lights and yes, KJ was in the stroller (poor thing! she says all of her milestones start off by me saying, "I think you were in the stroller." It's a running joke in our family.)

Some of our less than stellar Christmas's:
-the year my Grandfather passed away. He died in 1996 (oddly enough, on December 16). We were living in Cincinnati at the time and rather than drive to PA for the funeral, back to OH and then all the way to NY for Christmas, we just stayed in PA then went on to NY. Well, by the time we got home to Cincy (after New Years), our tree had lost all its needles and alot of my glass ornaments had fallen off the tree and smashed all over the wood floors in the living room. What a mess. Glass ornaments and pine needles everywhere. I think the very next year we bought an artificial tree.
-the Christmas after Chris's dad died. His dad really loved the holidays and really loved having everyone at the house for Christmas Eve. I know Chris misses his dad every day.
-the Christmas/New Year's Eve we lost Buddy. God that was rough. We had been at my mom & dad's in PA for Christmas and come home in time for New Year's. I let him out the back door shortly after mid-night on (officially) New Year's day and we never saw him again. KJ & I cried for months and months.

And, like every other family, we have our share of family traditions at the holidays. I particularly enjoy decorating the tree. Each daughter has their own box of ornaments -- things they've made throughout the years, personalized ornaments, Chris puts up his beloved Jets ornaments, etc. I love hearing "ooooh!!! I remember THIS ornament!" or "Do you remember when I made this?" Since we moved out of state in June 1995, most of our Christmas's have been spent on the road. Lots of singing in the car, lots of movies in the car and even a couple of "don't make me turn this car around's." Aaaah....the holidaze.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Going Green

I've been making more of a conscious effort to use my canvas tote bags when I go grocery shopping and run errands. I have a couple of really nice bags and keep them in the car. I don't like it when the bagger at the grocery store puts fresh meat in them. It really grosses me out. Does this make me weird??

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Nutcracker Gets me in the Mood

Gets me in the mood for Christmas that is! Yesterday the girls & I went to Oak Mountain HS to see the Nutcracker performed by the Alabama Dance Academy. Both girls had several friends in the show and we had such a good time! It's been so nice watching the girls grow up and play different roles. And now, we're watching KJ's friends dance. T & I have been several times to the particular Nutcracker but this was KJ's first time. I remember ME being a toy soldier one year, Kristy was a candy cane one time and I remember Rory doing a lyrical dance. The costumes were gorgeous and everyone did an amazing job! I really loved the "Let It Snow" jazz routine at the was very Broadway, very Rockette! Kristy's performance as the Snow Queen brought tears to my eyes (my friend Judy was sitting behind me and she was tearing up too!). Kristy, Molly, T, ME have been friends since Kindergarten and it's so wonderful to see the girls supporting each other. They've all gone their separate ways and do their own thing but I think they'll always be friends. I got emotional because I know this is such a big deal for the girls (and their parents) and the wonderful result of many many months of hard work.

After the show the girls & I grabbed burgers at Baha Burger. I am totally addicted to that place and love the Baha side salad (I wish I could get it as my entree). It has a wonderful citrus dressing and mandarin oranges. One of Chris's little laxers was there with his family so we chatted a bit w/ them. It's always funny to run into a laxer. Speaking of laxers, today in T's Sunday school class one of the boys told T that I was "pretty cool" but Chris "is always mad and yells alot on the field."

Friday night Chris & I went to the Christmas party at church. We had never been before and had a great time. The band was AWESOME and there was plenty to eat and drink. We were actually an hour late...I thought the party started at 7 PM but it really started at 6 PM.

Today we had a nice relaxing family day...Chris took the girls to Sunday school and he made a lasagna for dinner. We got some laundry done, some cleaning and straightening up done too. I also got some photos of the girls for Christmas cards and started writing them out. I'm doing pretty good with my Christmas shopping too. I don't have too much more to buy; now I just need to start shipping some packages home.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Jersey Shore

OK, I know it's hard to think about the beach with winter snow storms threatening my Northeast friends but apparently there is a storm a-brewing at MTV (sorry! I couldn't resist!).

If you don't watch MTV anymore, here's some background info: MTV has aired a new reality TV show that is a cross between the ground-breaking Real World and the HBO series The Sopranos. The new show follows a group of "loud and proud" Italian-Americans (also known as self-proclaimed "Guidos" and "Guidettes") during a summer at the Jersey Shore. And yes, it's called "The Shore" not the Beach and you don't say "I'm going to the Shore this weekend" you say "I'm going down the Shore." Where you going 4th of July? I'm going down the shore. Daughter #1 cracks up at this!

I grew up in Rockland County, New York just north of the GW Bridge on the "Jersey side" (meaning I had to take the Palisades South into Ft. Lee, NJ to get onto the GW) so I do have a bit of experience and knowledge on this topic. As a kid I went with my family to the shore for weekend trips and then as a teen and a young adult. Each beach has it's own personality and kind of caters to different age groups. Very similar to the "Redneck Rivera" here in the south (when we first moved here, everyone was simply aghast that Chris & I liked to go to Panama City. I was told that no one and I mean NO ONE goes to Panama City. Birmingham folks only go to Gulf Shores, Orange Beach or Destin. We liked PC because it's seedy and tacky and reminded us of home!).

Here's the thing about the Jersey Shore: the water is freaking freezing and doesn't really start warming up until August. A typical day at the Jersey shore went something like this: leave your house at the crack of dawn, fight the traffic on the GSP and drop a couple of bucks at the tolls (and no GSP doesn't mean a Garmin or TomTom, it means "Garden State Parkway"), hang out on the beach, check out members of the opposite sex, walk back to your seedy mom & pop-owned motel to shower (nothing like drying off with a scratchy, paper thin towel) and get ready for a night on the boardwalk. Walk back to the boardwalk, eat funnel cakes, play games, go on a couple of rides (always save the log flume for get really wet and it totally messes up your hair), have the most delicious lemonade EVER, check out the tatoo parlors, play some mini-golf and basically walk around seeing and being seen.
I will admit I have not been to the Shore in years and years but I do understand that a lot of the mom & pop motels have been replaced by upscale high-rise hotels and condos. So sad. Those little drive-up motels are a Shore institution with many families frequenting the same motel for generations.

When I was growing up and went to the beach on family trips, we went Wildwood a had a great boardwalk. We also went to Ocean City a couple of times. When we were in high school we went to Seaside Heights (aka "Seaside" --infamous for one of BonJovi's earlier videos) and thought we were so FREAKIN' cool! Seaside was maybe 1 1/2 to 2 hours from home and going to Seaside sans parents was a big right of passage for my group. As a matter of fact, we (as in 20-25 of our closest friends) went to Seaside the night after our Senior Prom for the weekend. It was the mid-80's and big hair was totally in. At that time, I-rocs, Camaro's and 280Z's were the big muscle cars (you HAD to have the t-tops) and no self-respecting IA (Italian-American) was without one. Neon was also in and I seem to remember a lot of guys with hot pink or hot yellow, neon green board shorts. After high school the big thing to do was rent a house with a bunch of people at Belmar (I had very strict parents so I was never allowed to do this but Chris did one summer and still has stories to tell).

So, as a Yankee living in the South, I can honestly tell you that yes, Guidos and Guidettes are alive and thriving in the Northeast, particularly New Jersey. It is a total lifestyle...the big hair, the nails, the gold jewelry, the cars, the tans. IA's are also very, very loyal and very, very family oriented people. The show is creating a lot of controversy from several Italian-American civic groups and has been blasted for stereo-typing this particular ethnic group. My question is this: is it stereo-typing when the "actors" are proud, true Italian-Americans simply being themselves?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I can NOT believe How FREAKING Sick I am!

Friday night we drove down to T-town (Tuscaloosa, AL) for the 6A High School State Championship game between Hoover and their arch-rivals, Prattvillle. It was bitter cold out and yes, we even had some snow on the drive home!

Thursday night my throat was starting to hurt and Friday morning I woke up with a headache and a sore throat. Fortunately, we were able to sit in Chris's company's office at the Bryant-Denny stadium (not a sky-box but an office in one of the tunnels....2 leather couches, 3 flat screen TVs, a fridge, a microwave, snacks, bevvies, etc.). The Bucs won and I spent Friday night on the couch because I was so icky by the time we got home. Well, now it's Tuesday and I've been on the couch since then. I don't know if it's a head cold or a sinus infection but my nose won't stop running and if I lay down it drips down my throat into my chest and makes me cough all night. I sound like I have black lung and I've been in the same sweats since Friday. Gross.

Saturday Chris's buddy came over Saturday for a bonfire and the guys watched the Alabama game on the back deck. Troy brought over shrimp cocktail and his deep fryer and made chicken wings. KJ and Trixie sat out there all day/night w/ the guys and made s'mores. I watched the game inside and I also watched Angels & Demons w/ Tom Hanks. Sunday we watched Star Trek and Taken w/ Liam Neeson (he totally kicked ass). Last night Chris & KJ put up the family room Christmas tree but there are no lights or decorations on it yet. We'll do that tonight.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Foxy Knoxy???

Couldn't resist that title. In all seriousness, after a year-long trial, American student Amanda Knox was found guilty of murdering her British roommate in Perugia, Italy on Friday.

I am very proud to be an American and extremely proud of my country. However, when we will learn that once we step onto foreign soil we are subject to that country's laws and legal practices? The Knox family is now slamming the entire Italian legal system. Do you remember a situation several years ago with a young American teen in Singapore (I think??) who vandalized some cars or something like that and was subjected to caning? What an uproar that was! What about the two American journalists accused of being spies when they stepped onto resstricted land and were sentenced to hard time in a labor camp? My point is, when you travel out of the country, you are subject to that country's laws (i.e., when you go to the UK you travel on the left side of the road, when you're in America you speak English, etc.).

Chris & I love to travel and we both have an incredible sense of history. Whenever we travel, with or without our children, we make it a point to learn and respect the people and their culture. I am often embarrassed by the "Ugly American" stereotype...the American who refuses to learn a few polite phrases in a foreign language, the American who mocks another country's traditions or living standards. We have witnessed it time and time again...the American bigshot at the hotel bar in Cabo bragging about "how little he tipped the bartender" because "he's grateful for anything I toss his way; I mean really, how much is a peso worth these days?" The American student screaming the words to the Spongebob Squarepants theme song as we walked the streets of Rome two summers ago. The American women in Cancun saying "God! I can't believe these people live this way!" The rude American in the Bahamas asking "What do I have to do to get a decent cheeseburger in this place?"

I have no idea if Amanda Knox is guilty or not. All I know is that her parents, and now it seems Hilary Clinton (WTF??), are demanding an appeal on the premise that her character was defamed in the press (which, in my opinion, is no different that what has been done here in the US in the Casey Anthony situation). In a case like this, her character should be brought into play. Whether or not she did drugs or was sexually promiscuous should be questioned. It says a lot about a person. Amanda Knox has admitted to being in the home at the time of the murders and says she can't remember anything because she was smoking some weed. That story has since changed several times.

Personally, I don't think slamming the Italian judicial system makes much sense and I really don't think Hilary Clinton is gonna help their little girl.

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"You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams." -- Dr. Seuss

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"There must be quite a few things a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them." -- Sylvia Plath

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