Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

December 30, 2012

Well that was unexpected!

At least it was unexpected by me.  For reasons unfathomed by hubby or myself, we set out to visit friends living about an hour away in a very “country” section of Connecticut yesterday afternoon – without checking the weather forecast!  On Friday I had noted that Saturday’s forecast was calling for an inch or two of snow.  Eh! I thought, what’s an inch of snow?

Our arrival in Woodstock CT was greeted with a very slippery driveway – a covering of snow over some previously frozen ice.  All the husbands from my group of friends, plus daughter’s boyfriend, worked at getting my little red Ford unstuck from the bottom of the driveway.  With several of these helpful souls pushing and my driving and trying to steer up the upward curving driveway, we arrived at the top with several fewer layers of rubber on my tires.

After that eventful start to our get-together, we settled inside for drinks, food, conversation and laughter with dear friends.  Outside, the snow continued to pile up.  We noticed snow plows passing by several times on the country dirt road.  My husband’s concern for our travel home deepened as the night went on.

By the end of the evening, when everyone was wishing to head out for home, the driveway had pretty much been blocked off with a snowbank from the passing plows.  Husbands again went to work clearing the way.  My hubby lamented several times about our lack of checking the weather foreccast.  If we had realized what we were in for, we most certainly would have chosen his 4-wheel drive Chevy Suburban to travel in.  Usually my car is our travel-vehicle of choice due to its better gas mileage and smaller number on the odometer.

What followed was a white-knuckled, foot-shaking, stiff-necked, 20 mph ride home.  Living in New England, of course I’ve driven in snow before, but I found something about last night’s ride scary.  The roads in Connecticut were snowy and slippery and not well lit.  I was the responsible driver for my family and daughter’s boyfriend. I was the protector, at the time, of three young lives in my backseat.  Several times I wanted to pull over and ask hubby to drive, but we were afraid of losing momentum and ending up stuck in the snow with those tires now missing a bit more tread than they had arrived on if we dared to stop the car.  So onward, slow and steady, we made the trek home.

In the morning, I had a look around.

what I woke up to this morning

This was definitely more than an inch or two!

Although it wasn’t fun for driving, the dogs certainly found it fun for playing!

Chase time
Teddy and his stick
Dog tug-of-war 2
Dogs consider stick
Golden retriever snow portrait
Collie snow portrait

All is well that ends well, right?

Announcement:  Today is the beginning of a new week and at midnight tomorrow into Tuesday we ring in a new year.  How about we go for that dinner photography blog-along I mentioned a little while ago?  Take pictures of your dinner for about a week any time between now and January 13th – that’s two weeks from today, then post the pictures, along with a description, in a blog post.  Leave me a link in the comments in this post, and I will write a wrap up to send everyone around to maybe get some new ideas for dinner.  As I stated before, it matters not to me if your dinners are fancy or plain, homemade or pre-made, take-out or eat-in, vegetarian or carnivorous.  Like to use recipes?  Post a link if you like!  Prefer to do “a little of this, and a little of that”?  That’s okay too!  Just show me your food!  Due dates are loosey-goosey! 😉

August 20, 2012

Mainely, the details

Back before I left for my vacation, I did a post about remembering to enjoy the details.  I noticed when I went through my vacation photos, that those are what I’d most like to share with you.  This was our 6th year returning to Hills Beach in Maine as a family (I couldn’t count the number of times I’ve been there when I was the child rather than the parent of the family), and our 3rd year renting the same cottage.  Perhaps because of this, my photo total from the week is fewer than normal.  I didn’t feel the need to take a lot of the same scenery photos that I’ve taken many times over.  I would’ve liked more pictures featuring my family, but as anyone who is the parent of teenagers will tell you, that’s not always the easiest thing to accomplish!

So without further ado, here are some of my favorite details that caught my eye this year.

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Morning sparkle on the water

rosa ragusa
Yellow beetle in a rosa rugosa

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Dandelion-like weeds appearing to grow from rocks

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Cottages reflecting on Biddeford Pool

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The shadow of the lacey toile curtains in the dining area of our cottage

spotted from the porch
The glimpse of a rainbow, spotted from the porch when I looked up from my book…

beach rainbow

beach rainbow
…of which I of course ran outside in the still sprinkling rain to get a better shot!

afternoon warmth
The warmth of the sun reflected in the colors of the beach

happy feet
My toes in one of their favorite places on earth

Graffiti is something I would normally never photograph, but in this case I felt like the graffiti was giving me a message or a reminder:
interesting graffiti
I’m fairly sure this message was not even written by just one person, but when I first glimpsed it I read: “Life is a Gift”. “Life” is clear in black at the front then around the side in green, the lower letters looked like “a gift”. That’s probably not what was meant by those who scribbled the graffiti, but sometimes those reminders find us anyway.

P.S. I did take an awful lot of photos of the shorebirds that I encountered this year! I’m still comparing my photos to photos on my bird identification site trying to figure out the pipers from the plovers and the terns from the little gulls. When I get them as sorted as I feel that I can, there will be a post and update for the birding project.

July 17, 2012

Camping Critters

No, the critters didn’t go camping, but I did see quite a variety on our camping trip to Goshen, MA last weekend.
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A morning hike to a fire-tower brought me my first dragonfly shot of the season:
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as well as an encounter with a bird that I’d never seen before:

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We wondered at first if it was a quail, but the members of our group believed this nearly chicken-sized bird to be too large to be a quail.  Later in the day, the word for this bird just popped into my head, unbidden: grouse!

When I came home, I double checked my thought on the computer and the description of this bird seems to match that of a ruffled grouse.

An afternoon walk to the small lake beach provided a couple more interesting creature encounters.  This creature was of a very familiar type, but I’d never seen one quite doing this before:

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I know many dogs, especially retrievers (not MY retriever of course!), enjoy swimming, but I’d never seen one swimming along side a cayak.

A pair of ducks made their way into the swimming area too.  They were unafraid of the people in the area.  I took a few pictures out of habit, but then I was happily surprised to capture this one:

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I don’t know if this was the he or the she of the pair, as both ducks looked virtually identical.  I think he/she looks ready to conduct a symphony!

A far less symphonic critter was the next to slither by my lens:

snake

I’m not generally bothered all that much by snakes, not that I’d like to have one for a pet or anything mind you, so getting this photo didn’t require much bravery on my part.  Later, however, my friends at the campsite looked at this picture zoomed in and believe we were in the company of a small copperhead snake – a venomous, but not overly dangerous or agressive snake.

There were also the usual chattering, curious red squirrels and chipmunks that ran around our campsite, but I somehow didn’t manage any photos of those.  One brave chipmunk that chose to come a little closer to us was rewarded with a treat of peanuts – I wish I had gotten a picture of those stuffed up cheeks.

Heat and humidity have taken over this region once again; upper 90’s are forecast and we are under a heat advisory.  Hope you are keeping cool today, whatever you are doing.

July 6, 2012

Cape Cod Sand Sculpting

Filed under: Travel — Karma @ 10:28 am
Tags: , , , , ,

On our visit to Cape Cod last week, we were lucky to witness the professional sand sculpting going on during the town of Yarmouth’s Summer Celebration Kick-Off.  There were three professional sculptors working over a few days in a roped-off area of Bass River or Smugglers Beach.

One creation was a breaching whale:

whale in sand

Another was slightly open to interpretation.  My daughters and I thought this one showed perhaps a Chinese Junk:

Whimsical ship

The reverse of this one did not offer more definition:
reverse of ship

We puzzled over whether this was a stone wall with cracks or maybe storm clouds with lightning; either choice seems to threaten the small sail boats below.  This sculptor went on to add a mermaid at the base:
Mermaid in sand

Perhaps this sculptor wanted to leave some thoughts to the imagination?  Or maybe there is a myth or story that is being portrayed here.

By far the most impressive of the three was the London Tower Bridge, bedecked for the Summer Olympics:
London Tower Bridge

Olympic Rings

The reverse side of the bridge harkens back to the town bringing us the fun sculptures to enjoy:
Yarmouth, Cape Cod

While these three sculptures were created by professional sand sculptors (can you believe there is such a job?  Must be nice!), it appeared that other folks with some sand talent were invited to get in on the fun.  I didn’t see these being worked on, and they didn’t have the staying power of the professional works, but these adorable smaller sculptures were also on display:

Snoopy
Everyone’s favorite beagle

Yoda with broken ear
“Broken my ear is!”

Fireman's hat
Yarmouth F.D.

Shark
Fish are friends, not food!

Lizard

Crabby

I remember the days when my favorite little sculptors used make their creations on the beach:

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Sandcastle

Do you have memories of these temporary works of art?

June 27, 2012

Buddleja and a Peninsula

I’m here with a little announcement this morning: feel free to take an extra day or two to finish up your photo hunt this month if need be.  Reason?  I have a last minute trip to Cape Cod planned for tomorrow through Saturday.  Saturday was the date the photo hunt was due, but now since I won’t be home until Saturday night, it is unlikely I will post my own hunt before Sunday since I’m not done taking my photos yet.

I didn’t want to head off to the Cape without leaving you with a few new pictures though.

I haven’t seen many butterflies yet this summer – but some lovely photos over at Robin’s place have me hoping I will see them soon.  My butterfly bushes are just beginning to bloom..
butterfly bush budding

and the milkweed is out too.  I’ve left some stalks here and there around the yard especially to entice the monarchs.

milkweed

I thought butterflies, and maybe the hummingbirds too, would find these lantana attractive but so far they don’t seem to be of much interest.

lantana

I’ve been enjoying watching the color-changing that the blooms go through as they mature.

fresh raspberries

The raspberries are ripening regularly now, and I’ve been enjoying eating a daily handful.  I suspect we will have quite a few to pick when we get back.

Our weather forecast for the Cape over the next few days couldn’t be nicer: upper 70’s to low 80’s with mostly sunny skies.  My mom tells me the summer kick-off sand sculpture event in her town is happening over the next few days, so I’ll be looking forward to seeing that.  Last year I saw what was left of the sculptures after a couple weeks had passed.
sand sculpture

It looks like we have a nice few days to look forward to – I hope you have something nice to look forward to too. I’ll be back in the blogosphere on Sunday, and also looking forward to seeing your photo hunts. (Gee, that’s a lot of looking forward! 😉 )

Are you wondering at all about my blog post title?  I was having trouble coming up with a title for this post even though I knew what I was going to write about, so I decided to wait until I was finished writing to title it.  I thought of “Down the Cape” or “Capeward Bound” as possible titles but they seemed blah to me.  I googled “butterfly bush” for possible inspiration and that’s where I found “Buddleja.”  According to Wikipedia (and I know you have to take information found on Wikipedia with a grain of salt), Buddleja is :

commonly known as the Butterfly Bush,[4] is a genus of flowering plants. The generic name bestowed by Linnaeus posthumously honoured the Reverend Adam Buddle (1662–1715), a botanist and rector in Essex, England, at the suggestion of Dr William Houstoun. Houstoun sent the first plants to become known to science as buddleja (B. americana) to England from the Caribbean about 15 years after Buddle’s death.[1]

The peninsula, of course, is Cape Cod.  Buddleja, peninsula – they kind of rhyme, no?   If that title doesn’t get me noticed by WordPress, I’ll never be “Freshly Pressed,” lol!

April 30, 2012

The Long Way Home

Filed under: Travel — Karma @ 5:46 pm
Tags: , , , ,

The last full day of our cruise was a day at sea.  The ship departed Mexico Wednesday night around 10 pm, and all day Thursday was spent sailing back to Miami.  It was a day spent relaxing in the sun.

lounging

I tried to take pictures of the sparkly water around me.  This is the shot that came out best:
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The previous night, we also found the last of the “towel animals” that cabin stewards often make.  Our towel creations were questionable as to what animal they were supposed to be, but they still amused us.  We found this fellow Wednesday night:
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I made a few modifications with one of my souvenir cups.
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I called him “Nessie.”

After our last dinner on board, our waiter for the week, Marlon, kindly posed for a picture with the girls.
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We pulled into Port in Miami early Friday morning.
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We had breakfast on the ship, then waited for debarkation.  The process of getting off the ship, claiming luggage and going through customs seemed to go rather smoothly.  It was the rest of our day that was not!

We considered looking into an excursion to pass the time before our 3:30 flight home, but none of the offerings seemed all that interesting to all four of us, and there was a concern about being back to the airport on time.   So, we prepared ourselves for waiting around in the airport for a long time.  In addition to the long wait in the airport, we had a long layover scheduled in Chicago and we were not scheduled to arrive back at our local airport until 12:40 am.

That day was made to feel even longer when we missed our flight, despite being in the airport about 5 hours ahead of time.  The gate printed on our boarding pass did not match the actual gate our flight left from.  While I realize now that it was apparently our responsibility to keep checking on gate numbers once we arrived at the airport, I was very disappointed in the customer service we received at the time we realized our error.  We were quite rudely re-directed to rebooking, where we were just barely booked on the next plane out, leaving 2 hours later.

Arrival in Chicago involved chasing all over the airport to find which gate our connection departed from, and then finding that flight was delayed an hour.

By the time we walked into our home in the wee hours of Saturday morning, I believe it was about 2:30am.  That was definitely  the long way home.  I swear I am not making this up, but as I drove the last half mile to our house, this song was on the radio:

With the exception of this very long day Friday (and into Saturday morning), this was a top-notch vacation for me.  How wonderful not to cook, clean, drive or make a more difficult decision than “what should I choose from the buffet?”  How awesome to experience the beauty of Key West and to spend time swimming in Mexico with one of the most intelligent mammals.  How perfect to have a vacation that contented each member of this family and hopefully created memories that will last a lifetime.

Thank you, Carnival Imagination!

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April 25, 2012

Off the Florida Keys…

… there’s a place called Cozumel.  Okay, I paraphrase.   That’s from the Beach Boys’ “Kokomo”, yet another song that invaded my head during the cruise.  And Cozumel is waaaaayyyyyy off the keys.  435 miles to be exact, but I’ve been using lyrics for my post titles this week in keeping with my cruise soundtrack idea and I didn’t have a song that exactly fit our visit to Mexico, so I tweaked!

It was a cloudy but warm day when we arrived at Puerto Maya, the Cozumel port where our ship docked.
tree1

I thought this picture of the ship in port gave a nice perspective of the size of the ship since you can see people disembarking in the shot.

ship1

We met our guides who took us to one of the highlights of this trip for me, swimming with a dolphin at Chankannaub Park.  Hubby wasn’t interested in participating in this activity, so lucky for me he was able to stand on the dock and take plenty of pictures.  I’ve put a sampling of this wonderful experience into a slideshow for you:

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The girls and I were absolutely delighted with “Frida” our 17-year-old female dolphin who entertained us and swam with us for about an hour.  If you ever find yourself with the opportunity to have this experience, don’t hesitate!  Do it!

After our swim with Frida and her trainer, we had time to explore Chankannaub Park.  It seemed relatively quiet, perhaps due to the cloudy skies, but I was able to wander around peacefully and take some more photos.

Tropical flowers:
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a very noisy bird I’d love some help identifying:
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And a lovely beach I could have easily been convinced to spend some time relaxing on if rain showers didn’t seem to be threatening:
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After our delightful visit to Chankannaub, we did some souvenir (and tequila!) shopping in Puerta Maya before our return to the ship.  Meghan even tried bargaining down a few prices on some of her purchases!

Cozumel was the last stop before our return to Miami after a full day at sea on Thursday.  I’m sure I’ll be back later this week to wrap up our trip.

Don’t forget to work on your Favorites Photo Hunt!

April 23, 2012

It’s 5 o’clock Somewhere…

That seems to be a theme around Key West, which was our first stop on our cruise.  Jimmy Buffett, I think, spent several years living in Key West.  His orginal  “Margaritavilla Cafe” is in Key West and the slogan “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere” appears in many places.  Our stop in Key West was brief, but there was plenty of time to get a feel for the beauty and make some fun discoveries about this southernmost piece of the continental USA.  He actually originally recorded this song with Alan Jackson in Key West:

I even bought a sparkly t-shirt with that written on it.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Our boat docked early in Key West, and most folks had breakfast while in port, except for the person who fell victim to the southern version of a sea gull (not sure what their official name is):
gulls2

This person was silly enough to put her breakfast down at an outside table, then go back to the buffet for a beverage.  Those of us in view of the windows saw the gull help itself to pancakes, sausage and anything else on that plate!

While waiting for my family to be ready to go ashore in Key West, I took some pictures of the beautiful port.

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keywest1

Once we were ashore, this was the first time I was able to get the full wide view of our ship.

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We spent some time scouring the shops for souvenirs,

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enjoying the tropical warmth and flowers,
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learning facts that were new to me,
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rt1
(Did you know that US Route 1 travels up the entire east coast of this country? I’ve travelled on it in Maine. I had no idea it continued all the way through the Keys!)

and visiting the southernmost point of the continental U.S.A.
southpoint
There were a lot of tourists standing in line here to have their picture taken with this monument; I opted not to, and instead stood on this jetty just around the corner:
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This house is the southernmost home in the USA (they make a big deal about this “southernmost” business in Key West!)
southern

There was some unusual “artwork” in Key West too:
keywestdude

We made one more fun stop on this island:

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Yes that’s Sarah being a really good sport for her mom!
Since this post is already so photo-heavy, I thought I’d put a few of my favorites from the conservatory into a slideshow. Interestingly, the birds were more cooperative this day than the butterflies!

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I hope you enjoyed your visit to Key West!  I definitely did!

April 22, 2012

Cruise with me, baby…

Filed under: Travel — Karma @ 5:06 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Where to begin, where to begin?  I’ve got so much to tell you about from the past week I’m having trouble organizing my thoughts into possible recognizable blog posts.

Should I just start at the beginning and work my way through the week?  That seems what a logical, sensible type of blogger would do.  I’m not often known for my logic and sensibilities however.

I could try to come up with a theme for each post – flowers, birds, etc – but I doubt I could be that organized.

I had this idea to try to create a very cool slideshow with all the music that has been playing through my head since Monday.  Even if I could do it, I imagine I wouldn’t be able to share it easily on this blog.

The part about the music playing through my head is real.  My sister and I had this joke or game between us while we were growing up called, “Lyrics for any occasion” because it seemed one of us could always come up with a song to suit almost any situation.  While four sleepy-eyed travellers sat in our local airport very early Monday morning awaiting our flight to the city where we would board our ship, I called this song up on YouTube on my phone just to try to amuse and wake up my daughters:

And so began my own game of “Lyrics for any occasion” for the duration of our cruise.  I wrote the songs down as they popped into my head on a piece of Carnival notepad paper, sure that I could work these songs into my blog posts to help give you the full picture of where my head was at for the week.  I don’t, however, wish to jam up your browsers with piles of YouTube videos when you try to read my blog.  Like I said, I’m still figuring out just how to present my posts.  Maybe I’ll pop a few particularly apropos videos at the end of my posts and scatter a few lines of lyrics throughout.

Hmm, my wordcount reads 341 at this point and I still haven’t shared a single picture. I should remedy that.  How about a look around our ship, the Carnival Imagination?  That seems like as good a place as any to get started.
This is “the Atruim”; it is what you see when you first board the ship and it is in the middle of everything, with elevators to take you everywhere:
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The Lido and Promenade decks where you’ll find the pool, bars, food, hot tubs, and music:
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The Serenity Lounge, where only folks over 21 are allowed – the place to go when you need to get away from all the “happy” children:
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The Dynasty Lounge, one of several places to relax and see a show:
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Lounge near the Spirit Dining Room, where we had dinner each night:
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(Hmmm… I think I know those people… 😉 )

Carnival Water Works, the on-board mini-waterpark:
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Our little stateroom, where we spent little time:
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In just about every place on this ship, it was always possible to get one of these:
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The drink of the day in the souvenir cup! I, er, lost count, *hic*, of how many of these I had  😉

It was a fabulous week of relaxing, eating but not cooking, traveling but not driving, exploring and discovering.  I’ve got much more to share with you, so I hope you’ll be back to read more during the week.

April 15, 2012

Tomorrow, tomorrow….

Filed under: Travel — Karma @ 10:56 am
Tags: , , ,

….I love ya, tomorrow….
P5152183

big toy

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old looking boat

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Wood Island Light

Gee, what do you suppose is on my mind today?

Tomorrow is the big day.  We have a 6am flight for Miami tomorrow morning.  We should arrive in Miami around 9am.  I don’t know how long we will have to spend hanging out at the Miami airport before our transfer to the pier.  The Carnival website says embarkation can begin at noon.

Our itinerary for the week:

Monday: sail from Miami at 4pm

Tuesday: Arrive in Key West 7:30 am, depart 2pm

Wednesday: Arrive in Cozumel, Mexico 1pm, depart 10pm

Thursday: Fun day at Sea

Friday: arrive back in Miami, 8 am.

I hope 6GB is enough photo memory for me, LOL!  I have a 4GB and a 2GB card – what do you think?

By the way, our college visit yesterday was an excellent one.

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Meghan and I both loved Worcester Polytechnic Institute – WPI as it is commonly referred to.  It has a small-school feel within a medium-sized city in a nice suburban setting.  It is far enough from home to merit living on campus, but close enough to come home whenever she wants.  The programs offered and the philosophy of the school are right in line with what Meghan thinks she’d like to study and what we, as parents, would like to see her have.

This will be my last blog post until my return.  I hope you have a wonderful week,  and I look forward to sharing with you when I get home!

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