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Someday Camping Will Be Fun…

The girls and I took off for Illinois after one of their orthodontist appointments Thursday afternoon.  We had packed up and were running late.  I called the orthodontist and told them we were running late.  They said as long as we were there within fifteen minutes of our scheduled appointment they would still see her.  I put the address in my gps not because I didn’t know where we were going, but because I wanted to know what time it was saying I would arrive. It was telling me between fourteen and fifteen minutes after our scheduled appointment.

I drove as fast as I possibly could without getting a ticket.  With every yellow light I came to, my four year old grandson yelled, “oh no!” I flew on threw trying to just get this appointment in before our four hour trip to the camper for the weekend.  We did make it.  Barely, but I got her there and she received the needed services then we grabbed some lunch from the grocery store and were on our way.

I think this is the first trip I’ve ever traveled a full two hours without stopping.  I made it all the way to the I80 truck stop exit before we stopped.  I was talking on the phone and let the person I was talking to know I couldn’t send kids into a truck stop alone so I needed to go.  My little guy being four years old required mema going into the stall with him.  As he sat on the toilet he asked if the toilet was one that would flush by itself.  I told him it did.  He screamed.  Apparently, four year olds at least this one, is afraid of self-flushing toilets.  I quickly corrected myself and lied and told him “no” it doesn’t flush by itself.

I know I’m horrible, but I have quickly forgotten how much little people whine and cry over silly things and we big people must think fast, which I don’t often do. In addition to lying about the toilet, I allowed the little guy to eat bread for lunch.  I was powerless. I thought I would do better on this trip and not get into arguments trying to order french fries.  So…I went to the grocery store for lunch.  I suggested sliced turkey and some fruit.  The girls said they needed bread for their turkey.  I gave in and bought small Hawaiian buns.  The short little grandbabe refused turkey, refused strawberries and grapes.  He let me know that he was not going to eat anything, but bread.  He told me that the other food I offered was big people food and he was little.

I am fully aware I was being manipulated, but he’s not my kid, right? I’m to spoil and send the babe home, that’s my job. That is really difficult for me, as nutrition is really important to me. The kids and I have really been trying to make lifestyle changes.  Cutting out grains and eating more fruits and vegetables, less processed food.  That’s what makes the scenario so hard for me. I would love to just give in to him, but it makes me feel soooo guilty!

Well, Oliver and I were pretty excited about this camping trip as this was the first one he had been on with me. We arrived at the camper which once set up was 92 degrees inside.  I started the air and tried relaxing outside, but the camper was taking quite a bit of   time to cool off. I had budgeted one meal out which I had calculated to under twenty dollars.  Pizza! So I decided we would go get pizza instead of fighting the bugs after our long drive.

We drove back eight miles to a nearby town and got water and a large pizza and onion rings.  Oliver again let me know he wasn’t eating pizza, but somehow he loved those onion rings.  We ate and returned back to the camper.  By this time it was starting to cool off quickly as thunderstorms moved in.  I put the awning away that I had just set up, but decided with the winds, when in doubt don’t.  I got it pulled in just in time as the storm really rolled in.  And roll in it did.

Fortunately, my little guy loved watching the storm with his mema just as much as I did with my grandma so many years ago. Watching storms together is  one of my favorite memories with my grandma. As young as three or four I remember her moving a mattress in front of a screen door for her and I to watch storms roll in and I would pat her face and tell her I was scared.  She would explain to me that there was no need to be afraid and we would lay on the mattress and enjoy the view.   I wish she was still here to enjoy the storms with me and my beloved grandbabes.

Well, the next morning we all headed to the prison which we somehow explained to the four year old babe was a castle.  His aunts explained to him that the bad kings lived on one side and the not so bad kings lived on the other side.  This was to explain the two parts of the prison.  The part that supposedly housed the bad kings does not actually house prisoners yet.  Its not operating yet, but the explanation worked.  I think by the time we actually arrived he had forgotten this fabrication his aunties had come up with.

We had a wonderful time at the event the prison put on.  They invited the families of the prisoners for a day of fun.  The Friday before Father’s Day.  All kids were invited and food, crafts and games were on the agenda.  I took the two younger girls and Oliver with me.  Our older son drove separately with my precious 22 month old grandson, Remi.  We all had a nice time visiting and were able to walk the grounds which we aren’t typically allowed to do.

Once we left I asked my son if he would be willing to be a good son and help me move my camper.  I had decided I was sick of the sand at the place I store the camper and I needed to pull the darn thing home to figure out some problems before I attempted to camp again.  He agreed.  I asked him to simply watch me and the girls hook it up to the truck as that’s who would be doing it when we headed home.  We did a good job getting it hooked up, but he insisted I could back the camper up with his supervision.  Mind you, this place is hilly, uneven and sandy.  I had the truck in four wheel drive without the camper hooked up as to not make any ruts for the picky and observant owners.

I had told Kenters I had been watching videos on backing up and was confident I could do it.  Of course he laughed at me, but extremely patient with me (patience-he gets that from me not his father!) He was awesome and I backed the darn thing up a grassy hill and was able to pull right out of this god forsaken place. I will explain what I mean by god forsaken….

So, I have had my camper at this place for two months almost to the day.  I have fought to have all the electric work.  I would run one thing and if we plugged something in we would blow the gfi at the pole.  We were constantly having to reset the plug. I couldn’t get the air to work so I had a portable air condition plugged into a drop cord that was at least making us comfortable.  So, I had decided I was going to pull the camper home, find some help in figuring out why I kept blowing the gfi plug on his pole and then bring the camper back over here 222 miles.

In the meantime, with the storm and all I was sick and tired of the sand and dirt and the camper being unlevel because there are no level spaces at this campground.  I decided to have Kenters help me move the camper to a nice state run campground four miles down the road for the remainder of the weekend and I would then pull it home on Monday.  But, something happened.  I got set up in a civilized campsite and to my amazement- not amazement, everything in the gosh darn blankety blank camper works.  The air, the fridge e v e r y t h i n g !!!! I’m laying in bed a hundred feet from a real toilet and a real shower and I’m freezing because the air that blew his breaker every time I turned it on is now freezing me out.  I was able to run my air, the lights, the microwave, the fan and alllllll of it and I’m not blowing anything.

Once I told Kent what was going on he consulted with a fellow inmate who is an electrician and was told I must have a bad ground connection in the camper.  Now that I know what is wrong I can try to figure out how to fix it or find someone who can help me.

With this new knowledge I will just pull it back to the crappy place I paid for storage for the summer four miles away and when I can come back over and camp I will pull it back the four miles to civilization.  It’s not much more work as the only extra I can think of will be putting the stabilization bars up and down.  Everything else has to be opened and closed every time I camp anyway, so what the heck.  I can do it!!

This morning the girls were tired of camping, not so much the camping, but the bug bites we are still fighting constantly. I told the girls if they wanted to go home today and not tomorrow they had to get everything cleaned up, packed up and ready to roll within 45 minutes so we could head to the prison.  My plan was to visit Kent early and leave after three hours so we could get the camper moved and head home.  My plan seemed to work.  The girls had their incentive, we worked hard and fast and had just about everything done so we went for our visit.

It was a beautiful cool morning we were able to sit outside and visit with Kent.  Its nice when we can be out there as its more private and comfortable.  After three hours we said our good byes and went to finish getting the camper ready to move. We got the truck hooked up and everything closed within thirty minutes or so.  I had figured out how to almost perfectly line the truck up with the camper to get it hitched on.  I was way to proud of myself and how quickly I got that thing hooked on.

Pride comes before the fall, in order to pull out I needed to go left, it was a bit of a sharp turn so I went right and went down and around a loop and headed out.  I got the mile out of the grounds to the check in booth.  And I heard a horrible sound and felt something not good.  At first I thought my stabilizer bar had come down because it was touching the ground.  Then I thought I had a blow out over the speed bump.  When I got to the back of the truck I realized the hitch had fallen out.

I was horrified and quickly tried to figure out what to do.  I sent Chloe back to the camp ground to look for the pin.  She called and said she couldn’t find it.  I asked her to get the guy across from our site to see if he could help he was a campground helper.  In the meantime after about fifteen minutes and many people passing by, a gentleman and his wife stopped to help.  He informed me he had an extra pin.  I had been trying to jack the camper up with a tiny jack I found in the truck to no avail.  I wasn’t able to move the crank on the camper because I’m not strong enough.  Long story short once he started working on it the camp helper, the camp attendant and two people riding bikes were all there to help.  The two people on bikes had found my pin and given it to the attendant.

After thirty minutes or so I was once again on my way.  I only had four miles to go get this thing off the truck and I could head home.  When I got back to the sandy pit I asked the owner where I should put the camper as I was just storing it I wasn’t staying in it there anymore.  I made the excuse that the kids want to be able to ride bikes and go to the park at the other camp ground.  He told me to just put it where I had been before.  Once I got down to the spot my plan was to just drive over the railroad ties, pull forward, unhook and get out of there.  He had other plans.  He told me to pull forward and back it in.  REally? I had to back it in when I’d only done it once and just had a catastrophe.  I obliged and did as he asked and I got it on the first try!! Yea, I backed the camper in.  I’m not proud though I can’t handle another fall for awhile. So I’m humble, very humble and staying that way!

 

 

 

Home At Last

I am so thankful to be home.  Being away from home for nine days basically roughing it is exhausting.  After the eventful evening I had on the last night camping I think it will be awhile before I am ready to head back over there.

I had a shorter visit with Kent on last Sunday since I had to close up the camper, pack the truck and drive four hours home.  When I got done with my visit and started closing up the camper I noticed the “hit” the camper took did more damage than I noticed the night before and the guy just flat out lied to me about part of the damage he did.

The first problem with the camper I noticed was the awning didn’t properly close and I had to push on the arms to get it aligned.  Once it was rolled up it didn’t fully latch to the camper.  It will be fine while its being stored, but once I go to pull it home it has to be fixed.  The second problem I found was the drawer under a door where he hit the camper wouldn’t open.  There is a small hole and deeper scratches the guy told me he didn’t do.   I told him, “no he had to have done it, there was no prior damage.”  I would know I power washed it for two hours before bringing it over.  Then I saw that the damaged part he said he didn’t do and said had obviously had prior damage because there was putty on the side was because when he hit the camper it tore off a latch that holds the door open.  That’s why there was putty on the camper. I couldn’t find the latch on the ground so he had apparently took it hoping I wouldn’t know what he had done. He had offered to reputty it.  He wanted to fix the damage himself he didn’t want to turn it into his insurance saying he’d have to pay a deductible.

I at the time didn’t want to upset him as I had heard how he was when he was upset all night. Screaming and fighting with his wife.  I was afraid to call the sheriff to make a report and then have to spend the night alone next to his camper.  And I didn’t want to talk to him while he was visibly intoxicated.

When I realized he had hit this piece off the camper and had to have taken it because it was nowhere to be found, then tried to make me think my camper was already damaged  I was furious.  He had not only lied but covered it up.  Then to fix the light he broke he took the light off his camper and taped it onto mine with electrical tape.  As if all that is supposed to make up for the hole he put in my camper.  I called the sheriff to make a report.  He asked if I wanted them to give him my number I said, “no, give me his number and I will give it to the insurance company. ” Thankfully I left the campground before the guy returned.

Chloe and I got on the road, stopped for gas and were on our way.  Then Chloe told me she was starving and had to eat.  She could not wait any longer, eighteen miles from the camper.  Sami had gone with her Grandma and Aunt so she could get home sooner.  I pulled into McDonald’s and ordered her a sandwich and a large fry.  We were going to share the fries.  After waiting in line for 15 minutes I got to the second window to get our food.  I was handed a sack with a sandwich and he started giving me a drink when I told him I didn’t order a drink I ordered a large fry.  He told me to check my receipt.  Then another guy came to the window and I told him I wanted a large french fry not a drink.  He told me to check my receipt.  I told him I would, but I didn’t care what the receipt said I wanted fries not a drink. Then they sent the manager to the window.  She yelled, “you aren’t getting fries.” I fought back, I said, “I have been waiting for fifteen minutes and I want what I ordered.” She said, you aren’t getting fries you didn’t pay for them.  I was so dumbfounded I was in a bit of shock.  She had walked away from the window, I told the kid working I will pay for the fries I didn’t purposely not pay for the fries.  So after a total of 25-30 minutes I got our fries and we were finally on the road.

Well the McDonald’s story made me laugh all the way home.  I did voice to text in writing out what happened in an email to Kent.  I had Chloe read it back to me since I had done the voice to text and wanted to make sure it sounded right.  We laughed for a good while because it sounded like I was this spoiled child trying to get my french fries and my mom wouldn’t let me have them.

We are home now and very thankful to have the shower forty feet away, a cold fridge to keep  food in and a nice thick mattress to lay my head on.  The yard looks like a jungle, but the mower is my escape time so I will gladly jump on it as soon as I have some free time.

Finding the “alone” time to mow proved difficult this week.  So I decided to have my little helper help me mow. A couple bungee cords and we were off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life is Hard without My Man

I left for the campgrounds Friday afternoon once Noah got out of school.  I picked him up and we headed out around 3:30 that afternoon.  We drove pretty much straight through after most of the day the girls and I had been packing the truck for the trip.  It takes a lot of lists to prepare to stay away from home in a camper parked over two hundred miles from home.

Having the camper parked is supposed to be a way for me and the kids to be able to see their dad as economically as possible.  I find it takes quite a bit of planning to pull off the economics of all this. I have now been here in the camper for eight nights.  I stayed the week after Memorial Day because I thought it was cheaper for me to stay than to go home.  When that thought was in my head I was thinking I saw Kent Memorial Day so if I stayed Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday it was forty-five dollars more.  I would want to return the following Friday so it would cost me that to drive home and that to drive back.  So I stayed.

Ummm, camping by myself, quite an adventure.  As I said, Noah came over with us, but only stayed two nights and then went back with his sister so he could go to school.  We got over here Friday evening around 8:30.  The camper was facing the wrong direction as the owner had made me switch sites since the camper was staying for the summer.  He had turned the camper so the awning was facing the road  not the lake.  I had Noah turn the camper around for me.  In order to do this he had to not only move the camper, but  unhook the truck and back it out between  the lake, two campers and a tree.  But, he did it as stressful as it was.

The next morning we awoke and realized the lake was rising and if we waited until after our visit with Kent we may not be able to get the truck in front of the camper to move it without the truck  going  into the lake.  So we moved back enough that we felt safe from the rising lake.  Noah had told me we should just move to the spot next to us because he felt it was a better spot and farther away from the lake.  I didn’t know what the owners would say so we stayed put.  Then the owners stopped by to say hey and said they wouldn’t have cared if we moved to the other spot.  When we returned from our visit we moved…a third time.  Ugh!!

We have a small tent the two younger girls wanted to sleep in so they set that up and Noah and I slept in the camper.  The camper is basically for sleeping at this point because I have not had the opportunity or time to learn how to use things and because of the damage I’m not sure what I should be using and what I shouldn’t.  I may have been a bit gung ho in hitching up the camper and hauling it over here for the summer.

Noah left Sunday afternoon and the two girls and I were on our own for the rest of the week.  Noah was such a sport before he left and helped so much.  As I said he and I slept in the camper, it was miserable because I am a very light sleeper.  I could feel the entire camper shake every time he moved and I’m sure he felt the same.  I asked him to figure out how to put the stabilizer bars down and he watched a video and got the thing stable.  No more wiggling, I could sleep at last.

The girls and I attempted to keep ourselves busy.  We went to nearby towns and went window shopping, stopping for ice cream and packing our lunch where we were able to eat at road side parks that had beautiful overlooks.  We went bike riding. The girls went exploring and did their school in their free time. They also went kayaking right in the lake in front of our camper.  They talked me into going in which I went maybe thirty feet out into the lake.  You see, the winds were around 25mph all last weekend and most of the week.  When I went out on the kayak Noah was here and was able to help me out.  I was a bit maybe a lot worried about getting out on my own as I injured my knee last September where I didn’t walk for over three months.  It still is not fully healed and I am petrified of more knee problems.  I would rather have all six of my kids at once than go through the pain of my knee going out again.  It was that painful.  So as the kayak tempts me I have not gone back out.

Then the lake got calm and I saw it.  A head slithering through the water then diving down into the water as its tail followed the body I saw that it was a dreaded snake.  I googled what type of snakes are around here.  Water moccasins or commonly called cottonmouths.  No, thank you!  I realize the snakes aren’t going to jump into the kayak.  But, what happens if I tip and go into the water I’m sure they would all attack at once and devour me.  No way am I going into that water.

The campground I’m keeping the camper at only has kybos. It does not have showers that’s why it’s five dollars a night cheaper when I’m staying and I’m able to store it here  for fifty a month.  So the search for a shower was on.  Fortunately, there is a state park four miles away.  We showered there first.  Then Sunday happened, the park closed for flooding and locked the showers.  The next shower we wanted to take took a bit of finding.  After driving for over an hour as my gps kept giving me wrong directions we found one in Clinton and showered there, eighteen miles away.  The third place we showered was a state park north of here.  I went in, the girls had decided they would wait until the next day when their Grandma and Aunt would arrive and they could shower at their hotel.  I on the other hand was going to see Kent and preferred to smell fresh rather than as sweat, campfire and the gross outdoors. I went in to shower.  I noticed the biggest stall was out of order.  I went into the middle stall although I was apprehensive as there was a camera.  A camera in the bathroom!!! It wasn’t pointed towards the shower, but I kept wondering if it was getting me in the corner of its eye.  I showered as quickly as possible in the freezing cold, dressed as quickly as possible in the dripping wet stall and let my hair air dry on the fifteen mile drive back to the camper.

Friday was finally here again, I went into visit with Kent and told him all about our adventures the past week.  I told him how this great truck he sold our other wood truck for was ummm having a few issues.  Although, I am quite thankful that the truck is a double cab, something our other one was not and don’t mind it terribly bad.  I am thankful for the incredibly cold air coming out of it when it has gotten so stinkin hot here this week.  It has not gone without its problems.  The first problem I had was before we left, the tailgate decided not to stay up so like good hillbillies or moms who can’t fix a thing we put a strap thingy on to hold it. see I don’t even know what they are called.  So the strap thingy keeps the tailgate up.  That’s a bit embarasing, but I remind myself I have a nice suv at home in the garage and I don’t Have to drive the wood truck, I choose to. That somehow makes it a bit easier on my ego.  Then one day on one of our outings the door handle went flying down the highway.  I was to busy to stop to pick it up I don’t really need it anyway as that door quit opening a few days ago.  The third problem I have and it is a bit embarrassing, but I have figured out how to alleviate it a bit.  The drivers door does not want to open.  I found that it take three full body slams to get it open.  Not one or two but three full slams.  I am sweaty and worn out by the time I get the blankety blank door open.  But no worries here, I figured out if I push on the side of the window it comes open with one hard push.

Here it is Saturday night, the girls are at a hotel with their aunt and grandma. I have been alone in the camper trying to clean up and get ready to pack up and head home tomorrow. When I feel a tremendous jolt. I go outside the camper and see the guy next to me backed into my camper. He is horribly apologetic.  I’m scared to death dealing with him. The reason being last night was his first night here.  At twelve thirty I finally quit hearing him yelling at his wife when I put my speaker as loud as it would go in my window.  I was hoping he would get the point without me screaming “we can hear  you, would you shut up.” So this guy that’s having to admit he hit the camper and broke the little light also saying he didn’t put a hole in the camper.  The hole is tiny, but this camper is styrofoam in the middle.  So that hole no matter how tiny is going to put moisture in here and I am not sure how to handle a guy I have to spend the night next to that I have heard his rage for hours on end and it wasn’t towards me.  This is no fun not having my hubby do my dirty work for me. I got his plate number I will have to let the insurance companies work that out.  Too much on my plate this week for me to handle.

I’m thinking of the past week alone as a woman trying to camp.  I realize there are many women who can do it.  They can do it better than me for sure.  It has definitely been a struggle.  I have been incredibly frustrated with not being able to get a fire started at times because the wind would not just die down and go away.  It was a struggle keeping food cold in the one cooler I foolishly brought because the other ones I own are loaned out.  It was even a struggle going to a laundry mat.  I’m not used to going to a laundry mat so when I put my twenty dollars in for quarters to wash my one load of laundry and I got twenty dollars worth of tokens back, I wanted to cry. There were times through the week I did cry.  I balled like a baby.  I wanted to cry when I saw my girls legs so bitten up by mosquitoes and I couldn’t figure out how to protect them from the horrible invasion we couldn’t get away  from.  Although all that happened and it was all very hard.  I got to be with my girls.  I got to put them to bed and wake up with them.  I got to do a bible study with them each day and talk with them about what they were learning.  Through all this hardship is good.  And I will try my hardest to focus on the good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mother’s Day

I have spent the past week preparing for my third child’s graduation party. We had a few bumps in the road getting ready for it. I ordered the invitations waaaaay late. We had to change the date because I didn’t remember we had homeschool tumbling recital on the orignal date and the yard needed to be perfect. Having the yard perfect is a problem when you break the mower. Not once but twice.

It started last weekend when I came home from the last performance of my youngest child’s recital. I had spent the previous week running her to practice and dress rehearsal and yada yada yada. That part of our lives is over for the year and I headed home to hop on my mower and relax. I pulled in the drive and noticed the mower was outside. I went over to it, pulled it to the garage and saw I had a completely flat tire.

I called the only child I knew that could have driven the mower with a flat tire and asked what had happened. She told me she used it to move something. I was not happy. This mower is what I use to first make the place look presentable and second or maybe actually first, relax. I mow several acres for several hours a week that take me away from it all. Kinda like the old calgon commercials. Mower take me away….That’s what mowing does for me. So when I pulled the mower over and noticed the flat tire I was furious.I couldn’t find the stem so I couldn’t air it up. For the night I gave up.

The next day the naughty daughter and I went shopping for her graduation party. I let her know that when we returned home she would die if I didn’t get my mower going. Somehow when we got home I was able to see the tire stem I couldn’t see the night before. I tried airing it up. It wouldn’t do anything. I decided to remove the tire. The first tire I have ever done anything to. With a little leg power I finally got the tire off and sent naughty daughter to town to get it fixed. She returned home with it and I tried putting it back on. This is the small swivel tire on the back of the zero degree mowers.

When I tried putting it back on it kept spinning, it wouldn’t hold still and it was an inch to short of getting the bolt back on. While I was so proud I got it off I couldn’t get it on for anything. I called my handy dandy neighbor who came over and quickly realized I was putting the square part in the round part of the bolt. Who Knew? I mean why can’t it just go in either way? That would make it so much easier. While he was over I asked if he would help me check the oil? The oil was low so we put in quite a bit. My handy dandy neighbor went home and I hopped on the mower and started getting the yard in shape for the upcoming party.

I have to say after the past month of twice a week practices and the added stress of tumbling recital and all that entialed I was happy. I put my headphones on and started in. After half an hour of mowing I thought I heard something and looked behind me. The mower was smoking really bad. I shut it off immediately, but it was sizzling. A thought came to me at that moment and that was that we had put oil in when the mower when it wasn’t completely level. We had it jacked up working on the tire. I remembered to much oil was as bad as not enough oil. I left the mower in the field for the night and called my mower guy the next day. He said bring it in and we will drain some oil and check it out.

The only way I could get the mower to the shop was to borrow my neighbors trailer as ours was stolen a few years back. I text the neighbor and he had the key at work so I waited until that evening to pick it up. When I went over to get it he was gone again, but it was unlocked. His wife and I attempted to hook the trailer up to no avail. I asked her if it was okay if I just left the truck there and he could hook it up when he got home, then I would pick it up in the morning. She said that was fine. Of course my awesome handy dandy neighbor delivered truck and trailer home late that night after getting off his second job.

The following morning my youngest child and I went out to load the mower. I tried driving it straight on. Nope that wasn’t going to work. I attempted to back it on. It should work, but wasn’t. I tried for several times. I gave up and told Chloe your brother is just going to have to come help me. She said mom I think we can do it. I was hitting on one side while the other had several inches of space, I should be able to get it. After a couple attempts I shimmied it on and we quickly closed the gate. Two days later my reliable mower guys called and said I could pick the mower up. They loaded it for me this time.And they made it look so easy? How come they can just pull this mower on a trailer that is the same width as the stupid mower and have no problems.Is it because I’m left handed, blonde, a woman… I don’t get it.

On my mower again, headphones on and happy as a lark. I was mowing the last part of the yard that had to be done before the party the next day. It was early evening and the weather was perfect. I was thinking I should probably mow this last part twice because it had reallly gotten tall since all the rain and mower being broken down. I saw a pile of “stuff” where the garden had been the year before.I was stearing clear of it when I got to close. I ran it over. I was so irritated as I always run “stuff” over. Usually its not my fault and of course it wasn’t my fault this time either. But, I was pretty much the only one that was here to fix it. It was that roll stuff that you put down under mulch or rock to keep weeds from coming up. I had left a roll of it near the garden. It got wrapped around the blade and wedged between the blade and the deck. Maddie’s boyfriend attemted to help me for quite some time. I may have scarred him when I told him how Kent nearly chopped one of his finger off working on one of our mowers years ago. He asked if it was spring loaded and I said I don’t know just beware when you work on mower blades fingers can come off. He gave up. So I took over. I laid in the gravel driveway for a couple hours using a razor blade to remove the material from around the blade. Then we ended up using a torch to get it from the blade and the deck. Finally, I got the hill mowed. Not twice, but at least once. Yard mowed I was ready for party day.

Party was going great until,the dogs started fighting. Maddie’s boyfriend often brings his dog over.Our dog and his started in when boyfriend attempted to stop it and got bit. No stiches but some pain I think. This particular friend brings his dog over often. His dog does not like “Mark,”the cat. Despite the efforts of many people trying to keep Mark in, Mark insisted on coming outside. I’m not sure if our dog was protecting his friend, the cat, or wanted to join in the tearing in two of the cat. Either way I have told this friend I don’t think its a good idea to have two unfixed male dogs together. They are friends one minute and advisaries the next.

After the party came to a conclusion, Noah and I packed the car and the cooler as quickly as possible and headed down the road. We took his little Honda Civic no air condition or cruise control, but great gas mileage and headed to the camper. Noah would have prefered leaving in the morning, visiting Kent and returning that evening. That would have been around five hundred miles of driving in a twelve hour period rather than a twenty-four hour period. I won that round and we arrived at the camper around midnight. We set up the beds in which I quickly feel asleep. I have to wonder how I can go five or six hours without needing a restroom and within two hours of falling asleep need to use it.

Noah had decided to sleep in the bed beneath mine so he wouldn’t have to climb over me when he came to bed.He wanted to stay up for a bit and enjoy the river in front of the camper. I thought that was a good idea until two hours later I was climbing over him trying to get out and to the kybo. From now on I insist on the lower bed. I don’t care who has to climb as long as I don’t have to.

After a long night of the dog deciding he wanted to sleep with me instead of Noah and the dog waking up very early to check out the fishermen outside our camper we got ready as quickly as possible and headed to the prison to see Kent.
We arrived around 9:15. We were some of the first visitors to arrive and were able to get a table outside. We checked in, they brought Kent out and we sat out on a picnic table for three hours. There are five tables outside I believe. Two are metal picnic tables the other three are round with round metal seats. The picnic tables are quite a bit more comfortable. Although hours of sitting on metal is never comfortable.

After about three hours it was getting warm out so we all three headed inside. The guards came into the room and let the next group waiting there know there was a table outside available. In this room there are two restrooms. One for inmates the other for guests. They are locked unless you ask a guard to open them for you. There are also several vending machines and a microwave. When you visit your loved one you are allowed I think twenty-five dollars cash and you can bring your debit card in also as one machine is supposed to accept cards. The past few weeks the card part of the machine has not worked. The last time I visited I bought Kent and I each a tea. Kent said his didn’t smell or taste right. I smelled it and he was right. Then I checked the expiration date, it was twelve days over due. What was really bad about that is, the weekend before I had purchased the last tea in the machine, which meant it was stocked with expired tea.

After about an hour more of visiting inside, Noah and I said our goodbyes and left. We went to the camper, cleaned and closed it up then sat at the picnic table by the river for a little picnic. We did a short Bible reading together, which means so much to me to be able to do with my fifteen year old son. The girls had decided not to join us on the trip as they had a long day at adventureland the day before and were not ready to drive the dreaded four hours it takes to get to the campsite.

While having the camper near the prison is convienet. It is the only way I am be able to visit him, as I can’t drive five hundred miles in one day,I just don’t have the energy.

It does still come with problems. The camper is over two hundred miles away and I left home in a hurry. When I plugged the camper in at home everything seemed to work fine. We have 220 amp so that could be the issue, maybe not. When I plug in the camper at the site I blow the gci breaker at the box. The box ampage is 20 and the camper is 35, I have to wonder if that is the problem.I don’t know when the owner of the camp ground knows what he’s talking about or when he doesn’t because when my cord was to short to reach the box he told me to use any drop cord. I told him you can’t use a smaller cord with a fatter cord he said you can. My dad was an electrician and you don’t have to be an electrician to know that will cause a fire.

I went ahead and paid for the camper to stay at the site for the summer which is fifty a month. Pretty good rate as it would cost a lot more to pull it back and forth that many miles. But, this girl can’t camp without air condition so I have to figure it out. You tube better help me out!!

All in all this was a nice weekend with perfect weather. Although I drove/rode five hundred miles in twenty-four hours I got to spend it with people I love. I am grateful.

A Post From Kent

Ephesians 4:22-24
Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Life is filled with curvy roads and sometimes you will find yourself on one that you may have taken a couple wrong turns where all of a sudden the path you were on looks unrecognizable. You’re not exactly sure where you’re at or even how you’ve arrived at the point where you feel like there may be no return. The road has become overgrown with debris, rocks, mud, sand and water cover different parts of it. The path has narrowed to the point where you’re not sure you can safely get turned around. You see a fog rolling across the country side as the sun is setting. All of a sudden you find yourself in a spot you have to get out of. Panic starts to set in and your mind is racing with how, whys and what ifs?

Before the despair sets in you have to decide, are you going to let your circumstances take over or are you going to allow your faith to rise to the occasion?

This is the very position I have found myself in. I’m approaching two months into my federal prison sentence. Everyday I struggle with many of the how’s, whys and what ifs. How did I get so far into the wilderness? Why would my Lord allow my family and I to suffer and lose so much? What if something happens to my family while I am incarcerated? There are a million questions like this that can torment you daily if you decide to allow Satan to have free rein on your mind to bind you in the bondage of your circumstances.

This is an area where God has been really working on my heart. The ability to find joy in my circumstances. He has been speaking to me through His word. Joy, happiness, fulfillment and peace are things you have to choose to have have. God has been ministering to me and teaching me through His word that no can take my joy. No one can wreck havoc in my life. These are state of minds I can allow myself to fall in and out of. Rather being fearful about being in prison. I choose to be in awe of how He’s meeting my needs while I am here. I choose not to be burdened by my in ability to physically be present with my family on a daily basis. I rather choose to praise Him that He has given me a heart to pray for them like I never have before. I refuse to be in the mindset that I am a failure that landed himself in prison. I’m gleeful that God has given me this opportunity to spend time in His word and better myself through my reading and daily exercising.

I am determined to build myself through Christ the new life as described in the book of Ephesians. I am going to come out of this a new creature, I choose to be more loving, more tender hearted, more faithful, a better steward of my time talents and treasures. What are you going to do with the circumstances you may find yourself in? Where are you going to find your joy? These are questions I ask myself daily and I pray and read His word to find my answers.

Figuring it Out

camper 3We have had a camper sitting in our driveway for around three years.  When Kent had his dealers license he had bought and sold several travel trailers and did well with them.  The last one he bought he wasn’t able to look at it before purchasing and after bringing it home discovered it had extensive water damage. So, because of all we had going on and time restraints the travel trailer just sat.

Noah and I decided we were going to make it work.  It may not look perfect inside, but we thought the air, electric, heat, etc worked so we were going to do what we could.  Noah has learned quite a bit from working around home with his dad and got a great start on transforming the damaged areas.  We decided to remove the bathroom altogether as we plan on only camping in civilized areas.  With some help from one of Maddie’s friends we were able to get the camper going in time for a road trip to see Kent.

Last Thursday evening I had many plans of making sure I could take on this task of hooking up a camper, unhooking a camper, backing it up and all the things that go along with setting up camp over two hundred miles away from home. I made all my lists of everything we should take. I checked to make sure my vehicle was capable of pulling the camper. The girls and I scrubbed the camper down.  I power washed the outside for what seemed like forever.  We packed up.  I hooked up ALL by myself.  Noah was not able to help me or go on the trip so I was a bit apprehensive.

I have to say I was pretty excited that the camper moved when I put the Sequoia in drive.  Then it got dark and I didn’t have any time to practice.  Morning came, we double checked that we had all that we needed and headed out. As I was driving to town to check the tire pressure on the camper I decided to call the insurance agent to make sure I was covered while pulling this thing. I live ten minutes from town.  As I rolled into the intersection of 65/69 and 92 and my insurance agent was explaining the add on to my policy I looked at the passenger seat and thought “oh crap.”

I’m literally just rolling along getting ready to turn and after ten minutes on the road I see the dogs butt heading out the window.  Before I could do anything he jumped out.  I’m yelling at the insurance agent just add it to my policy! I was so worried that I had killed the dog.  My son’s prized possession at the moment.  I slam on my brakes and Sami jumps out and chases the dog down.  Everyone including Rocky the pitbull are safe and sound. After we are all settled I pull into Hy-Vee gas station, air up the tires and we are on our way once again.

Whew, we roll on down the interstate hour after hour stopping for gas a couple times. Pulling straight in and straight out. I’m thinking this isn’t so bad.  I just hope all I have to do is go straight.  After all, I had no time to practice going in reverse.  Everyone was trying to talk me out of it.  But, I was thinking we have everything we need packed up we will find a camp ground that will be way less than a hotel room and we can be outside.  The weather was gorgeous and I was looking forward to seeing my honey and being away from everything with my girls.

A little over four hours later we arrive at our destination four miles from the prison.  Its a small private camp ground as the state parks aren’t up and running until May 1st.  I talk to the owner, he shows me where to park and I attempt to unhook the camper from the Sequoia.  After a little help from the girls jumping up and down on the bumper and the campground owner putting some boards under my wheels we were settled.  I’m still not sure how I got on those boards, but they are there and yea they are under the tires.  I notice other people have things to make sure their wheels don’t move so later in the evening I make a trip to an auto parts store and purchase wheel stops so we don’t end up in the river.

The girls and I jump in the truck and head to the prison to see Kent after six long weeks of missing him.  It took a bit of time to get in to see him.  I had to fill out some paperwork they looked at we were wearing and informed us of what they expected for future visits.  We were okay for that night and after a few minutes we started our visit with Kent.  It was Friday evening so we were able to stay until 8:30 pm, but  since I didn’t know exactly what I was doing in the camper and we were planning on visiting the rest of the weekend we cut our visit a little short.

Back at the campground we got a fire started and cooked our dinner on the little griddle we had brought along.  We sat around the fire and enjoyed the rest of the evening before heading to sleep.  I hadn’t really thought a lot of things through, such as filling the propane tanks and making sure the heat worked and all, but I had brought a small space heater that kept us warm enough.

The next morning we heated up our breakfast in the microwave and headed to see Kent.  He had told us to try to be there by a quarter till ten at the latest because if we were any later he’d have to be at his bunk for count and wouldn’t get to see us until at least 10:30.  We arrived a few minutes after 9 and were  told the jeans Sami was wearing and had worn the night before would not be allowed in the prison as they were to tight.  The guard advised us we should go down the road ten miles to Dollar General and purchase something not so tight.  I was thinking to myself not one word was said about her jeans the night before, but whatever.  So we went.  By the time we returned it was 9:55.  We went in and were told we’d have to wait until after count.  So to our truck we returned once again.

About 10:30 we finally got to see him, we stayed until visiting hours were over at 3:00.  After visiting we went exploring around the Mississippi.  Its beautiful over here.  The girls both think we should just live here in the camper.  We went to Palisades State Park.  We got out and walked around until the dog freaked out. I had my keys attached to his collar and he flailed himself around and out of his collar not being able to figure out what was clanging around his neck.  We finally got him calmed down and headed back to the camp ground.

The girls were able to take a canoe out on the lake for a bit then come back for a fire and relaxing time.  We have the camper parked within 30 feet of the lake that is attached to the Mississippi River. When they first asked if they could go on a canoe I told them they were crazy if they thought I would let them go in a river in a canoe.  Then I realized we were actually in front of a lake that is by the river and there are buoys warning them exactly where they could go to keep them out of the currents of the river.

Sunday morning we were once again able to go visit Kent this time we didn’t have to go purchase appropriate clothing.  We are able to see him three days out of seven every week if our schedules allow for us to come over here.  I spoke to the campground owner and he said I could leave the camper here for two dollars a day when I’m not camping and when I am its fifteen a night.  I’m sure that’s cheaper or equal to the amount of gas I would spend pulling the camper back and forth not to mention I have a little cheap car I can drive back and forth if I’m not pulling a camper. And so far I have not had to back that thing up!! Hurray!! Not sure what I will do when I have to, but I will face that when I have to no need to worry about it now…

Wondering

Its Good Friday.  I think it is my favorite “Holiday.” I don’t know if it is the fond memories from when I was a kid or that its just a special time to celebrate our Saviors resurrection and the fact that I don’t feel pressured to commercialize this holiday.

My favorite memory of this holiday when I was a kid is, when I was about eight years old.  My mom had taken my sisters and I to a Good Friday Service at First Assembly in Indianola.  We lived in Lacona at the time, which is about thirty minutes away.  Someone in the car had to go to the bathroom.  It wasn’t me.  My mom pulled over on a gravel road in our little red chevel.  She didn’t get far down the road and we were stuck.  I think it was a level b road.  This  was back when we didn’t have cell phones so mom had to get out and walk to find someone to pull us out of the mud.  She gave me strict instructions that we were not to get out of the car.

I was the oldest and eight years old which meant I was to watch my two sisters, ages four and two.  I’m pretty sure this was the only time I fully obeyed my mother.  Being the obedient eight year old daughter I was at the time, my two year old sister said, “she needed to pee.”  I remember putting her off for as long as I could.  My four year old sister insisted the two year old could get out of the car and go.  But no, I wouldn’t allow it.  I did however tell her she could go in the car on the floor board.  And that’s what she did.  I can’t even remember my moms reaction.  I’m sure I was praised for obeying.

We haven’t had many “Easter memories,” with our kids as we didn’t really attend Good Friday services.  We always taught our kids what Easter is about and such.  One memory that does come to mind happened when we had lived in our current home on the highway for a year or two.  We had had a great Easter dinner and had settled in the living room with the family.  We were watching the “Passion of Christ.”  We had a knock on the door.  Kent didn’t want to answer it and we tried ignoring it.  The person didn’t give up.  He was out of gas.  Kent was thinking to himself, “its Easter, leave us alone.” The visitor told Kent he needed help.

Kent thought to himself, I’m here watching the “Passion of Christ, and I can’t just ignore this stranded traveler.  He took the traveler to town and got him some gas which he had to pay for and sent him on his way.  Kent won’t forget that night, because he was irritated that he was interrupted on a “Holiday” from his family and our time together.  He later was irritated with himself for being irritated and realized that he was able to bless this passerby.

This particular “Good Friday,” I am thankful, scared and wondering.  I am incredibly thankful for my savior saving me from my despicable self.  I can’t help but be afraid that I am not able to be all that my kids need me to be while their dad is gone.  I am wondering where my husband is.  I got two emails this morning.  The first one said, they are packing my stuff up and I am being moved.  I don’t know where I am going.  The second one said, my cousin Phil will be calling you. Phil? I didn’t know you had a cousin named Phil.   I’m assuming Phil is a newly acquired cousin, in the joint.  I haven’t received a call from cousin Phil or anyone else letting me know where my husband is.

I got these emails while I was getting one of the kids haircuts around 11:00.  I was in the car on the way home from getting his haircut, when I contemplated for a short time driving to the prison that I’m hoping he went to.  I figured if they left at noon and I left shortly after that I would at least be able to watch him being taken into the prison.  I then decided that was a bad idea and waited for cousin “Phil’s” phone call.  As evening approached and I hadn’t received a call I called the prison and asked if he was there.

The person I spoke to assured me he was.  I have no idea if the person who answered the phone knew what he was talking about.  I typically hear from Kent for very short times throughout the day.  Since I haven’t today, and considering what he said in the email earlier I am hoping and praying he has been moved.  If he has and its like I’ve heard it is when you go to a typical prison, it could be weeks before I hear from him.  I am certainly hoping I hear from him or cousin “Phil” soon.

After writing this I decided to try to call the facility that he had been told two and a half weeks ago that he would be moved to.  They told me he has been moved to their satellite camp.  Praise the Lord!  What a gift! The person I spoke to said Kent would be able to contact me by Monday.  In the meantime I will print out the visitor forms and get them sent in so hopefully I can see my hubby soon.

The Day From Hell

I should say week, but it hasn’t all been bad.  I have had many blessings this week.  Sometimes things just get so trying.  Today was supposed to be a quiet day.  The youngest girls were babysitting their nephews for the day, and I was going to lunch with a friend.  Then I had an alone day planned and I was going to get the house cleaned up which is sometimes difficult to get done with so many blessings living here.

This morning one of these great blessings I live with was refusing to give a ride to one of the other blessings.  Then the blessing who was being denied a ride to school  noticed their shirt on an older blessing.   That blessing decided to cut it off not just go take it off they got the scissors out and said,”here you can have your shirt.”  I think blessing number three was so upset because the complaining blessing number four is often seen wearing the clothing of blessing number three. As I was trying to calm down all the blessings, like five blessings chasing each other down, a cup of coffee went flying across the garage.  Thank God we all made it out alive. And no one was cut by flying glass or flying scissors.

After awhile things got settled down.  I went to lunch with my friend and spilled my guts and balled right there in the restaurant.  Then I got a call from Kent, I stepped outside and took it.  He hasn’t been able to call or email much this week.  The prison is on lockdown and has been all week.

The reason the prison is on lockdown is a female guard was either stabbed and either raped or the inmate attempted to rape her.  I am not sure which.  This did not happen on Kents floor, but when something like this happens the entire place is put on lockdown.  Lockdown means they get no or very limited phone and email privileges.  They don’t get to go outside.  They do not get commissary. Not getting commissary is especially hard in this facility because portions of their food provided by the prison is being controlled by the gang bosses. As in, the gang bosses take a portion of the food which makes the other inmates portions smaller. This is a period of time that is supposed to cool everyone down.

Instead of things cooling off it seems everyone is very tense and on edge.  Most of these people are career criminals and have nothing to live for.  They don’t care about trouble. They don’t have families that are awaiting their dismissal from prison.  So they cause trouble.  They take what they want, they do what they want and don’t care who they hurt in the process. For a person like Kent he walks the straight and narrow because he doesn’t want trouble he wants to do his time and come home to his family.  He is so worried someone will plant something in his locker or start another fight he can’t walk away from and get more time. An inmate in his area lost twenty some days of good behavior over something he had no control over.

Today when Kent called he was asking me to call the Assistant Warden and ask him what was going on with Kents transfer. Kent was being told by a counselor that they now didn’t know what they were going to do with Kent. I hung up with Kent, finished my lunch and came home to start finding out what I could do to help him.

I tried calling the prison.  The phone rang for five minutes before the receiver was lifted up.  No one said,”anything,” I finally hung up.  You can’t get to a person unless they either answer or you have a extention to put in.  I didn’t have an extension and I couldn’t find one anywhere on the internet. I tried calling the BOP in Washington D.C.  The voicemail says if you are trying to find out information about a particular inmate call the prison they are in.  I called back, this time someone answered.  Of course the Warden is not available, call back.  I called back a couple hours later this time I had an extension as I had asked for it in my previous phone call.  I had to leave a voicemail.

I called Senator Grassley’s office once again.  I told them the dangerous situation Kent is in.  They said, “call us next week if he doesn’t get moved and they will contact the prison.” Ugh…Ok…So I will wait.  I’m filling myself up with Gods word, praying and listening to Godly teaching.

“Let suffering be the door you walk through that draws you to deeper intimacy with Jesus. Let it play its sanctifying role.”

“He will use pain to expose our false beliefs about our hearts and about his heart. He will use it to prick a place in us that has been wounded here before, to reveal our brokenness so that God can heal it. He will use suffering to reveal Jesus’s faithfulness, kindness, and unending love for us.”

Excerpts From: Stasi Eldredge. “Becoming Myself.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/Fxl1L.l

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Couldn’t Have Made this Up

We have a pig, she doesn’t have a name.  I just ask the kids what she said when they feed her, so I know for sure they walked up the hill and gave her food.  She always says the same thing, “thank you, snort snort.”  That’s how I know they fed her, they are able to tell me she said, “thank you.”

She got out last summer while Kent was working in the garage, he looked out the window and realized something was amiss.  There should not be a pig walking in the front yard.  The kids were all gone, he came and got me and I jumped on the four wheeler to help him out.  He was out trying to lasso her at the same time our American Bulldog attacked her.

She proceeded to return to her cage.  She said, “the world was not safe and would not venture out again.”  She lied.

The day Kent left for prison she came for another visit.  Fortunately, Noah got her back in her cage.  This past Monday, she came for another visit.  Noah was not home.  I was in the kitchen cleaning out the refrigerator.  I saw her out the back window eating the trash my daughter left outside the back door that was supposed to be in the trash can at the top of the driveway.  Miss Piggy was eating “said trash.”  Since I was cleaning out the fridge I just started throwing food out to her trying to keep her busy until Noah would get home two hours later.

A bit later I think I heard a knock on the door.  Not wanting to answer it I pretended I didn’t hear it.  I went to the bedroom and put my bra on because I knew sooner or later I was going to have to face the fact or chase the fact that was missing from the cage up on the hill. The phone rang.  It was so in so at ……s23 hwy staying at so in so’s house.  Someone had knocked on her door and asked her about Miss Piggy.

Somehow …..s23hwy got my number and inquired if I had a pig that was missing.  I said, “yes I know shes out.  I’m not sure how I’m going to get her until my son gets home because my grandson is sleeping and I can’t come fetch Miss Piggy.”

It just so happened Miss Piggy was causing the gals dogs and horses quite a commotion.  I apologized and assured her I would fetch her as soon as my son got home.  She said she would attempt to walk Piggy home.  Must not have worked because I didn’t hear from her again.

Thankfully, Noah arrived home shortly after.  As in about an hour.  I filled him in on the adventure our gosh darn pig had been on that morning and asked him to go look for her.  He happily helped out as I allowed him to drive around the corner unaccompanied by me.  He is just a boy of 15 years.  He found her and his dog politely asked her to return to her cage, in which she refused.  So doggie brought her home by force, by the ear. Literally, this dog got her home dragging her by her ear about a quarter mile.

Noah called me and said, “bring the gun.”  He had chased her for an hour by then and had had it.  He said,” I’m killing her, I can’t keep chasing her.”  We live on the highway and she was causing problems.  I took him the 9mm and he proceeded to chase her around our acreage with his dog attached to her ear.  That made it somewhat difficult to get a bullet in her head.  Noah didn’t want to shoot his beloved dog.  Somehow piggie got away from doggie and ran across the highway into the nearby field owned by someone that we do not know  because they are from Des Moines and there was no time to notify them that we needed to chase down piggie.

Noah and I decided to follow her into the field and chased her around. She got out of the field and back by the highway.  We went onto the highway in which Noah attempted to shoot her from my window, and causing the rest of my hearing to go with the shell casing flying into the backseat.  I asked him to please not shoot the pig from my car and to get out and shoot her.  She took off into the field once again.  This time he got out and ran after her.  A short time later he did take her down.  He called me as I was on the road watching and said,  “get a log chain so we could bring her home.”

That had to be quite a site.  We dragged a 350 pound pig behind my SUV with a log chain.  Noah asked me to make sure no one was coming on the highway,  he was a little embarrassed.  I made sure no one was coming down the highway.  I didn’t know the mailman was going to come from the dead end the other direction.  So the mailman got to watch me drag a pig down the highway.  I’m sure we were quite a site.

This is typical of what happens in my crazy life.  That’s the one word that can sum this life up. I am so incredibly thankful for Noah, he not only shot the pig, he  hooked her up dragged her home, and then he butchered her.  He had her hanging in the garage all by himself.  I couldn’t believe he got her up to hang all by himself.  All this took about four or five hours.  The next thing I know he says, “can I go mudding.”  I let him go with his friends thinking I don’t even care what happens with the pig now.  I’m soooo done with this day.

He comes home after a couple hours with his friends and starts butchering her.  He gets her skinned and comes in and is like, “mom I’m not sure what to do now.”  Fortunately, a friend who had butchered hogs came and told him what to do.

Noah did bring me larger than normal parts then Kent would have brought me, but he did an outstanding job.  He’s fifteen going to public school for the first time since kindergarten this year.  He’s lost his dad, his mentor, his hero, but is really stepping up to the plate and providing what he can for his mama and four sisters.  He’s an amazing kid with an amazing heart.  And I am so incredibly thankful for him.

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