It starts with…

Not just food, but our relationship with food. MY relationship with food and a challenge to see how well I’d be able to stick to this. Somehow I lost my way about a year ago and struggled with getting back on board with consistent Paleo/Primal eating. Because of that my weight and health suffered. I had a cold that refused to go away. I GOT SICK IN HAWAII ON VACATION and then having my first asthma attack on my first deliciously long run was probably the last straw. Something had to be done right? So I decided to start my first Whole 30. I planned it. I didn’t want the temptation of the holidays in the way and I certainly didn’t want Justin’s birthday to suffer because of it. I couldn’t, however, put it off indefinitely because there’s always an excuse… a conference, Valentine’s Day, etc. So I decided on 3rd of January to be the start day.

Here we are on day 21/30 and we’ve been mostly successful. Justin had a pre-planned concession to allow for alcohol after the closing of the first conference he helped organize. Other than that he did wonderful. He found locations close to the site that allowed for his diet variances and made healthier choices when those weren’t available. For myself, I slipped in the beginning a few times. I wasn’t prepared for food items to be ok for paleo, but not for Whole 30. Chicken broth, for example, has sugar and Tuna in “water” isn’t actually water – it’s vegetable broth unless you’re getting the real fancy stuff. And the ingredient list for chicken of the sea? Includes soybeans. There was also a brief moment where I learned to really question an ingredient list at store delis. I had ordered the baked chicken thighs thinking that all they did was bake them. The cashier also reassured me there was no sugar in the herb mix. It wasn’t until later that I learned that there was corn flour in the ingredient list though.  Or trying to define exactly what “natural flavors” were. Slight hiccups like I said. I spent a lot of time googling “whole 30 + *****” to see what the gurus had to say.

There were also nice things about the journey – people really loving the knowledge I have in the different groups I’ve joined on FB. Realizing that I really know quite a bit about eating better! Having less and less problems waking up on my own without hitting snooze a time or three. Increased urgings to run again. (I haven’t run since Amica last month) I’ll cross my fingers for the end of the month addition of a decent Weight Loss! In the meantime, here are some pictures of what I’ve been eating… Let me know if you’re interested in hearing more about the individual recipes…

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Starting all over again

1523853_10152192138384101_1545136964_o2014 is right around the corner and I have a few challenges I’ll be participating in to help kick it off. I’m nervous as they will all challenge me in different ways. All of them GOOD, but still challenges none the less. I’m excited to see what will happen and also to see if I’ll be any good at sticking to them. I have some support systems in place so let’s see what happens.

 Challenge 1: Whole 30! whole 30

I’ll be attempting my first Whole 30 starting January 3rd. It may seem like an odd day to start, but it’s planned specifically because Justin’s birthday is on the 2nd. He’ll be joining me on most of this journey with a pre-discussed plan for leniency the week of Steam Dev Days since he’ll be extra busy that week with no way to control his diet. We’ve discussed a few ways he can make it happen and he’s promised to try and be as compliant as possible during this time. We have both tried eating Paleo for a period but fell off during a pseudo-vacation in 2012 (read: funeral in Hawaii) and then moved to a somewhat Primal-ish diet with lots of non compliant meals. I felt healthier during that Paleo phase and lost the most weight I’ve ever lost, but it’s been slowly packing back on. On a funny side note, I recently bought a cute dress that is a size smaller than I wore in 2011 to a function but I currently weigh more? How does that happen?

Anyways, I won’t be clearing the house right away of non-compliant foods, because we’re both pretty decent on willpower. Plus we tend to keep a lot of compliant foods and snacks around. I will however be incorporating some of the things I learned during last year’s Resolution Challenge. Glow girls are awesome, but the program didn’t work for me for a number of different reasons. I’ll be keeping track of my water intake as well as doing my best to get my Rainbow of veggies in. Spectrum salads may or may not happen, but I’ll definitely work on the rainbow as well as get better about getting my green juices in.

Challenge 2: Move More, Move Wiser!

2010-07-31 10.06.57This year has been a learning experience with my running. I have respiratory issues close to race day twice this year and by the end of the year my doctor made a firm diagnosis of Exercise Induced Asthma and explained a bit about Asthma in general. I also learned for the first time that my mom is Asthmatic. Revelations! Why it chose this year to pop up though? Who knows. By that point, I’d already run a dozen half marathons so you’d think it’d show up before then?

Anyways Move More, Move Wiser is about exactly what it sounds. Move more and learn how to do it while managing my asthma. January will be about recreating my 5k base. Up until now I’ve always run intervals of 1-2 min running: 1 min walking with a yearning to increase the running portion and eventually get rid of the walking portion. I’ve never done that even for a 5K! However, now that I know more about my asthma, I think I’ll be able to finally do it. I’ll also be doing more core work in the coming months to help with the IT band issues that I have and making sure I make it to my masseuse for regular appointments since my insurance covers for a ridiculous amount of visits a year! My last visit showed me how much tension I carry in just my shoulders and revealed that my numbness issues during Yoga could be caused by nerves being overly pinched in my shoulder areas because of all that tension. We shall see!

Challenge 3: #365inFocus

I joined the wonderful Evonne B in this years Project 365 group #365infocus. With my brand new spiffy camera, I’d like to learn to be more comfortable with it and a P365 project seemed like a great way to do it. I’ve attempted P365 before and always failed. I’m afraid the same will happen just based on my ability to talk about it. But I’d really like to succeed. I have a nifty new camera and nifty new lenses and I’d love to learn how to do more with that and with Photoshop. I LOVE capturing memories and images and I know I can succeed if I make me time a priority.

So join me on this journey I’m taking and cheer me on! I’ll be posting here, on Facebook, on Instagram and the #365infocus tumbler group.

Remember.

nytwinsWe’ll hear those words a lot today and I marvel as much at how much has changed in the last 12 years as I do abut how little has changed both in my life and our nation as a whole. I’ve been married and divorced. I’ve made friends and lost them. I’ve welcomed new lives into the world and buried people way too soon. Our nation has made advancement in science and technology as well as stepped back in how we approach food and diet by stepping further and further away from processed foods and getting back to our food roots.

I am saddened though to see how little we have progressed in terms of tolerance. How little of an impact big events make in people’s lives these days. When I was young, the date to remember was Kennedy’s Assassination. My parents and probably yours could tell you where they were and how they felt upon hearing. (MY parents can also sing their High School sing for you) I remember thinking that I had nothing to compare that to in my life. Now that I do, I can understand why they remember. Why its important to not forget. Today people are saying that they don’t remember. People are focusing on objects of negative things which detract from what happened on this day in history. I don’t understand the intolerance and venom I am seeing.

It’s part of why I don’t watch tv news any more. We have increased our understanding of the idea that we have a right to express our opinion, our thoughts and feelings. At the same time, we have somehow decreased our ability to be tolerant of other people’s choices and feelings. It shocks me to see how many people are intolerant of the idea of a Muslim group marching on this day to try and help dispel the fear of Muslims. To remind people that zealots do not define their religion. Instead we show support for a group whose main mission is to counter that of the first and drown out their voice with the mournful growl of their bikes. It saddens me. I thought briefly about removing the many many people in my Facebook stream that are helping propagate such hatred, but I went to bed last night before doing so thinking I needed a bit more perspective. Today a friend posted a beautiful thought. Beyond the many many remembrance photos and “never forget”s all over my stream is the thought I appreciate the most.

Today remember EVERYONE who has lost their lives to all types of extremists by doing something nice for someone else. The best weapon against hatred is KINDNESS.

Something new, something old

998378_10201109665681463_1765788309_nSomething new, something old, something purple… Wait, that’s probably not what you guys were expecting to hear. It’s truly how it went this weekend though. Event weekend with Team in Training and while this Sunday afternoon isn’t as beautiful as Saturday morning was, it’s still a beautiful day. On my way home from our Team practice yesterday, I reflected on a few things. The weekend, the Race, my beautiful Fall team, the pains in my ass… Cramping sucks, but it’s a great reminder of work done and enough to make me happy to put up with it.

That and the thanks I’ve heard all weekend from friends new and old who have told me what a big difference I have made in their fitness journey. Saturday marked my 12th half marathon race and the 2nd of those that I was unofficially on the course as a sweeper for Team in Training. Sweeper is one of those weird terms that basically means I am the cheerleader for the slowest of the participants on the half marathon course. I am there to cheer them on, cheer them up and make sure they can get to the finish line as safely as possible. I do this because these people inspire me and remind me of why I am running. Of what it’s like to dig deep into yourself to reach a goal. During this race, I even got to do it with a Coaches bib instead of just a race number. Yesterday it was coming to practice and talking to those that I mentor about practice & race strategies and even hearing from one participant how little things I’ve done have helped push her from a Marathon Walker to a Marathon run/walker. It’s the little things. Your 2013 Sweepers

 

Just as inspiring are the friends I’ve made over the years who were on the course or at practice yesterday. Who told me thank you for the words of encouragement or advice I’ve offered over the duration of our relationship. Let me tell you that as a 184lb woman who has yet to fully run a 5k, this really touches my heart. I’ve been on this fitness kick now for about 3 years and like many am constantly discouraged. I’ve spent lots and lots of time second guessing my choices. I post a lot about running and how much I love it, but the truth is that I spend a lot of time doing run/walk intervals. It truly is a shock sometimes to hear how much of a difference I have made in their lives. It makes me even more thankful for the people in my life who have made a difference in MY life. Without THEIR encouragement, it would have made it impossible to be a positive force in the lives of others. To be aware that I can make a difference for someone else and that truly is one of the greatest things in the world. Maybe if I keep plugging away at my fitness deficiencies I’ll be able to one day wear this bib in truth and help even more people. As a friend of mine recently said. Who needs a medal when I saw all those smiling faces?

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About being goal oriented.

So NikeSF Lottery opens today and I think for once… I’m not going to enter. I *so* want to run those hills again, especially since there’s that nasty rumor that they’ll stop doing half’s in SF after this. Earlier this year, however, I promised myself I would focus on other areas. The areas I’ve been neglecting by not resisting the lure of race after race after race. I told myself that if I pull back and focus on those problem areas, the running would improve. That if I did more core work and focused on my weak ass, then everything would get stronger and work the way that it is supposed to. That I’d stop going to see Dr Jacob for IT Band issues that he keeps insisting is caused by those weak glutes (Let’s face it – it’s more fun to call it a weak ass!). So more core work, more glute work and definitely slow down the runs so I’m running more consistently and stop doing these crazy short intervals that I’m at.

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I’m good at making excuses. But Nike was definitely the race that taught me exactly how stubborn I am and how staying focused on a goal will get me where I want to. Maybe that’s why I’m so sad about it. It holds a special place in my heart. It was only a few years ago that I idly said “I want to run a Marathon.” to a personal trainer at 24Hr Fitness who was probably more interested in the commission he’d get for getting me to sign up than in my actual goals. (I wonder if that’s actually true – do they get commissions?). Back then running 10 minutes on the treadmill was hard and I usually opted for the elliptical which provided a lower impact workout. Now if you tell me that I’m running for 2 hrs I’m all good!

I truly never thought I’d enjoy running. Back in High School it was “Walkers Unite” for us back of the pack gals who didn’t run. Now I’d like nothing more than to consistently run instead of doing intervals and to finally break the 2:40 barrier for the half! This is why I’m going to make every best effort to resist the urge to apply for the NikeSF Lottery. To sit down and focus on my goals. That way at the end of the year when I run the race I am signed up for (with the Team) I’ll be able to knock it out of the park!

Keep on truckin’

Almost a year later and adjusting my diet is an ongoing process. I have taken strides using available resources to better understand how and what I’m eating and every week learn something new to ponder. I still have problems eating enough, to say nothing about eating enough vegetables specifically. But I’ve also learned quite a bit. With the help of a recent trainer, I’ve learned different ways to approach my eating deficiencies (problems?) and how to solve those issues without feeling guilt that I’m either not getting enough nutrients or just plain enough food in general. For the most part I’ve found my issue is mind over matter. Or health over stubbornness really. My personal big roadblock is effort in relation to results. My mind can’t see the results even though they’re evident so it resists the efforts I try to make. Or I just plain get lazy and it bites me in the ass. I’ve learned that, for me, hunger comes in the form of tiredness and/or grouchiness. Still I’ve learned and tweaked and learned some more. I’m also getting really tired of salads. :p

I’ve learned things like that Soybeans have become a genetically modified super crop here in the US that rivals corn and it’s many Frankenstein like variations. I’ve been on the fence the whole time about soy mainly because it’s such a large part of an Asian diet. Thankfully there are substitutes like Coconut Aminos that mimic the taste of soy sauce that I enjoy. Sadly, this might also means that edamame is firmly in the do not eat category because of it’s GMO status. On the upside, I’ve learned to enjoy Kombucha, and added many things like Flax seed, Parsnips and Celaric to my diet. I’m still on the fence about Chia Seeds and Spirulina though.

I’ve learned more about the eating habits of people in general that keep me constantly reminded that what I’m doing is a good thing for me despite the naysayers in my life. People who don’t understand or for some strange reason just plain don’t care about my health. It saddens me, but since I can’t do much about it I move on. This all started with Is Sugar Toxic? A news article by Gary Taubes that talked about the negative effects sugar has on our systems and examined the history of our eating problems as a nation. Then it moved to Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead which focused on grossly overweight and sick people, moved to programs like Food, Inc that focused on where food in the United States is coming from and other programs such as The Weight of the Nation that focused on how we as people are dealing with our health. There are still so many other programs that I’d still like to watch and/or read. Things like Why we get Fat: and what to do about it, Forks over Knives, Fathead, The Paleo Solution and others. It’s scary to say the least. What have we done to ourselves for the sake of convenience? For the pure hedonistic pleasure that taste gives us?

Whatever the reason is, I’m choosing healthier options for a healthier me. It’s not an easy course to take though. I have to change my mindset on what “fast food” or “quickie” meals are. I can’t run to McDonalds for a 40? Piece box of Chicken Nuggets (seriously? WTF?) and a milkshake. I can’t stop at Top Pot doughnuts on a Sunday Morning for a box of fresh backed doughnuts and a Latte. Making juice for a party is no longer dumping a bottle of syrup into a cooler of water – it’s flavoring the water with natural fruits and vegetables. They just aren’t the best options out there. I have to remember that grabbing a salad is just as quick. I have to remember that it really doesn’t take that long to cook a meal if my kitchen is clean to begin with. I have to remember that I can prep my breakfast and lunch for work before going to bed. I have to remember that fresh fruit makes a great dessert. Now if I can just remember to do my laundry…

A clean start

20130113-110111.jpg This is what my fridge looked like a week ago after I cleaned it up and started grocery shopping. I’m ashamed of showing you the state beforehand not just because of all the junk, but because of all the caked on crud that was in it. Let’s also not mention my OCD issues with how disorganized it was!

When you’re rushing through your day, caked on crud isn’t entirely unusual when your diet is only haphazard. You’ll have old food on the edge of growing mold, veggies, slowly rotting and leaching liquids you’d rather not identify and let’s not forget those pork chops you meant to cook up two weeks ago that also leached a red liquid onto the shelf that then dried because you forgot about them. Yeah, that happened. Then I’d toss the stuff out and mean to start all over again only to get busy again. But realizing the weight you’ve put on, the sluggish feeling a poor diet gives you and a tropical vacation pending in 12 weeks sure gives you all kinds of motivation to get you butt in gear! (also? I hate wasting food like that!)

Enter the For The Glow Resolution Challenge! I’ve been following Jenn for a few years now and thought that her challenge was a perfect (& inexpensive) way to stay motivated as I restart my efforts to eat and cook cleanly. After trying Paleo for almost a full year, I realized that it was too restrictive for me and I still had issues. mainly getting enough to eat during the day and more importantly getting enough veggies in every day. Resolution Challenge started with a detox period that removed processed foods, coffee, soda and many other things from our diets. For many this included meat products that provided most of their daily protein. I followed as closely as I could tracking the amount of water, veggies, and variety in colors I consumed every day, but because The Tinkerbell Half Marathon was closely looming, I added meats into my meals to ensure I stay properly fueled for race day. I also added juicing back in to help with my daily veggie consumption.

Today we exit, detox and I’m proud of the gals in our group that have been posting their success stories. They’ve found new foods they never thought twice about much less be able to pronounce 10 days ago. Theyve found their skin had a new bright tint and a glow they bever expected from newfound health. More importantly, they’ve found out about willpower and determination as they avoided their favorite bad foods even while watching friends and family enjoy them that will help them dig deeper in other facets in life.

An inventory? Top shelf holds fruits, juices and other small jars. Pickled peppers, hazelnut and almond milk, Calamansi juice and berries. Coconut water, Kombucha, flax seed meal and pineapple occupy the second with my left over roast veggies. The top drawer is all meats. Sausages, bacon, cheeses and such. The rest is reserved for the many veggies we try to consume. 4 bunches of Kale, 3 of spinach, celery, parsley, cilantro, colorful peppers, carrots, butter lettuce, cucumbers, artichoke, asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower. My fridge is already more than half empty from when I took this picture despite the fact that I filled all that empty space on the bottom shelf with a ton of Kale and other veggies. I’ve already started my shopping list for replenishment and that excites me. I can’t tell you what this challenge has done for me weight-wise as my scale began showing its true colors, but let’s save that for another post shall we. :)

Inspired

“That’s the thing about running: your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success. They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is.”

~ Kara Goucher

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Thanksgiving Weekend, I did something different with my running. Instead of being the athlete digging deep trying to reach a goal, or beat a PR time, or even just a race distance I was the athletic supporter helping others dig deep. Helping others reach a goal. Helping others finish a race they weren’t entirely sure they could complete. My friends and family and the internet in general has heard me go on and on about Team in Training and how grateful I am to have them in my life. They’ve helped me reach goals that I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted when I started. Goals I truthfully said offhand with very little thought as to how I would accomplish them. They’ve helped me realize the world is bigger than me and the problems that I feel could end the world. They’ve helped me realize that there’s so much more I could do for others that I haven’t yet begun to help with. They’ve helped me realize I’m just a bit more stubborn than I let myself believe I am.

Because of that, I wanted to help give back and show others how awesome this opportunity is. I can talk and email and Facebook on and on about it, but it truly doesn’t show as well as I would like. So I volunteer my time. I mentored other runners with goal, I helped support practices by being there for Waterstop support on multiple occasions and I’ve donated time and money where I could. Thanksgiving weekend, I went out and supported the TEAM yet again. This time I purposefully walked most of the race to find our slowest Half Marathon participant and ensure they finish. We found her and let her set the pace all while reminding her that we were there for her. And I was inspired. Inspired by Dianne, the participant we found who we saw visibly dig deep within herself to find what she needed to keep going. Inspired by an elderly man waiting for his wife. (They were in the event together and he would run a bit then wait for her to catch up. He was a cancer survivor who didn’t understand why God did bad things to good people.) Inspired by the group of ladies who were walking because one of their group had injured herself and could only walk.  They brought cheers and chatter that I’m sure inspired the crowds around them if not at least a smile. These are all things that inspired me to keep going with this new season of fundraising. Inspired by how supportive our coaches were of all our people. Inspired by how well those coaches knew the participants they helped train all season. Inspired by the people around me. Inspired by the people who believe in me enough to make a donation to my fundraising efforts.

Today I’m thankful

It’s the end of the second week of November and my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter stream is full of “Today I am thankful for” posts (More prominent now that the political posts have died down). While I’ve seen this in my scrapbooking and memory keeping communities for years, it’s the first time I’ve seen it so widespread across a wide variety of communities. For the past few days I would read each one and smile gently to myself. It’s cute that it’s catching like wildfire and those people who aren’t doing it are wondering where it started from.

It’s something I don’t normally post here. I have tons and tons of things to be thankful for beyond the mudanew praises for having a job, a home with heat and locks, food to eat and the blessings of love from people I care about in return. And yes there are days that I’m blessed to feel angry and outraged at others who choose to lead their lives differently. There are so many people with bigger worries than mine! But late last week something happened that reminded me how precious life is and how we need to hold it close. To make each of those memories last because time is fleeting.

Today a friend returned to work to say hello. She’s been gone the last few weeks following a tragedy in her family and I have no doubt spent time searching her soul for an answer. While the visit was brief, it reminded me how easy a life I have. Yes, I do indeed have a house with lock and heat. (Something many people on the East Coast are now without) I have a job that while I’m not completely enamored with the environment, is rewarding in it’s own sense for what we do. We make lifesaving tools for lifesaving teams. I have bills. Yes this seems like a weird one to be thankful for, but it means that I have money and I’m comfortable enough with what I earn to be able to spend it as well. (Not everyone has that ability and are barely able to make ends meet.) I have a loving family who can be trying at times, but they’re here and all I have to do is reach out and they’re there for me. I have my health when so many others do not. (I am continually hearing stories of people falling victim to disease or poor health. Mine is not the greatest, but I’m thankful it’s not worse than it is.) Most importantly, I have a wonderful man in my life who loves me even when I’m my most grouchy, whiny, bitchy self. Who reminds me of what is important in life and what really is just fluff.

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This is the man who, when I first met his parents (virtually via Xbox’s Kinect system) responded to my nervous text of “What if they don’t like me?” with sweet words of “I can’t imagine anyone not liking you”. Who showed up to surprise me at the finishline of my last race in an other state because he hadn’t been able to be there for me at other races near and far, short or long this year. I’m told time and time again by my friends that this one’s a keeper and I certainly think so. I just wish I made a point to show him more often. (Yet another thing to be thankful for…)

Practical Paleo made it easy

Sometimes it’s easy now to forget what a hard time I had cooking when I first started eating Paleo. It’s not like I was cooking very differently, but I’m one of those things that, when learning, have to follow things as close to the letter of the law that I can. I would cook a meat and then panic about what side dishes to serve. I’d forget the time of day and panic because I had only a few hours of the day left before bedtime and wondered if I’d get dinner on the table soon enough. (Lord help me when I have kids…)

But things got easier. I realized that there is no defining policy to Paleo. That it’s more about eating healthy and eating well than it is about worrying about the minutae of an ingredient list. That really all I was doing was removing a few things from my daily dinner plate (like rice) and replacing them with more veggies. It’s always a giggle to me when I’m headed to the grocer to choose the next meal’s veggies. yes you heard that right. even with my change to Paleo and the juicing I’ve incorporated, I don’t keep as many fresh meal friendly veggies on hand. This is partially because I’m finicky and never learned to make do with what’s on hand, and also because I tend to forget about the “good” veggies in the back of the fridge and they spoil.

That being said, I’d like to share with you my first meal post. Most of you (some?) have been seeing them in my Instagram feed (find me as LianaWS), but I thought I’d share them here in a more detailed manner.  This meal happened a few days ago. Almost a week now? We had just received our copy of Practical Paleo and I cannot tell you how excited I was about it. Also, it’s a very heavy tome. The first half is dedicated to talking about Paleo and what it can do for you. I won’t lie, I’m still diving into that portion. But as soon as I ripped open my Amazon box, I headed straight for the recipies. NomNomPaleo did a review of the Bacon-wrapped Smoked Chicken Thighs. Her pictures were delish and it was actually her post that locked my decision to purchase this book. I wrote down the ingredients that I didn’t have and dashed to the store!

It’s a pretty simple recipie once you have everything. More importantly it was another nice recipie that allowed Justin and I to spend some time in the kitchen together. After I put  the spice blend together, he prepared the meat and I prepared the side dish (The added benefit of being able to save some chicken skins was a plus). We wrapped that sucker in Bacon and set it in the oven to cook.  While it cooked, I took the time to chop up one of my favorite veggies, Baby Bok Choy and stirfry it with some coconut aminos. This was such an easy meal to prepare and I love it. Literally, remove chicken from package, add spice, add more meat, add more spice and cook. We paired this meal with some fresh watermelon juice. A friend of mine had been raving about Watemelon juice recently and I felt it would be a great addition to our meal to have something fresh and different.

 I love when we both have the time and energy to do this, it makes the meal itself feel more intimate and the evening more intimate. We’re able to talk about how our days went, our triumphs, frustrations and plans for later in the week without the distractions of Social Media. I’m all for time spent in the Twitters, FB’s and beyond, but it’s nice to disconnect and spend time with the people in front of you. A good meal with family is probably one of the earliest social networks known to people. Time spent connecting and making memories. Modern Social Media has only expanded that to allow us to look back and remember great evenings like this.

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