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Life & Luck & Faith

I have just recently started writing again & just can’t stop! It is so freeing & relieving to smear your thoughts on the blank canvas of LinkedIn Publisher or WordPress. Of late, my goal has been to spread Optimism & Realism through my interpretations of life & situations. In an article I published last week called “Life & Luck”, I wrote about how many things have been slopped onto my plate, and the ultimate lesson was that life happens – how you handle it will determine your success.

One thing I wanted to weave into this lesson, but wasn’t sure how to, was the concept of Faith. For some reason, with ~$10,000 of potential costs from replacing my furnace & AC, I was able to stay positive – I felt that everything would be okay even though it was far from it. I didn’t get a feeling of anger or anxiety, I didn’t question my luck or why God would do this to me.

Sometimes, things just happen. The good thing is that on the other side of that coin is the fact that sometimes, things just work out. No matter how tough life gets, or how nasty a curve it throws us, somehow it all works out in the end – and usually works out for the best.

When I look back at my life, the toughest of times, I never think to myself, “I really wish I knew that in high school.” Or, “if I could go back with the knowledge I have now…”

It’s limiting. It’s stupid. And without my roughest, toughest tests in life, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

You can sit around & believe that life has it out for you, but I promise – they’re out for us all, not just you! The difference in life is always the how of things. How do you react when your environment pushes on you? How do you sustain being you & preventing yourself from freaking out?

I believe this is where Faith comes in – this doesn’t have to be specifically tied to Spirituality, but for many people it may be. Faith, in my mind, is trusting in the forces that are beyond your control – belief that you are in the right place @ the right time & everything will fall into place; it’s all part of the Grand Master Plan. Some may call this serendipity or intuition, and I believe that Faith is something rooted in those ideas, but still so much deeper & all-encompassing.

Wikipedia defines Faith as, “Faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing; or the observance of an obligation from loyalty; or fidelity to an entity, promise, or engagement.”

I think that the semicolons & ‘or’ that is listed in the definition could be switched to ‘ands’ – in other words, this definition looks like 3 different definitions, but I think they are all an embodiment of the whole picture of Faith. This is not 3 separate definitions, but helps to explain & set-up the relationship-like nature of Faith (I’m having flashbacks to Philosophy class; Kierkegaard anybody?)

This 3-part definition sets up with a couple things. Confidence in a person or thing (the self & others). As it relates to being loyal to the thing of Faith & to the world – it is interesting how they use obligation in this part of the definition, but then go deeper on the third section stating that it is fidelity to an entity, promise, or engagement. Fidelity is defined as faithfulness to a person, cause, or belief, demonstrated by continuing loyalty and support.

To me, this demonstrates that Faith is its own entity, but part of a 3-part system including the Self, the World, and belief in a higher order & higher power to things; a relationship to the Divine in Life – and not only that, but belief that everything is happening exactly as it should – and if it isn’t, good things are on the horizon.

Live your Life.

&

Make your own Luck.

&

Have Faith.

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Shot on my phone @ Charleston Falls Preserve, OH
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Buggin’ Out! (Or Pest Management)

The weather is warm, everything’s growing & flowering, and your mouth is watering for those fresh-from-the-garden vegetables. I’m starting to get strawberries & flowers on my raspberries, but just can’t seem to get the actual berries. After closer examination, I realized why.

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Ants crawling all over the flowers of my Golden Anne Raspberries

 

But ants do not cause the harm initially! This is caused by aphids eating at the plants & their sugary droppings attracting the ants (thanks to fellow WordPresser hermitsdoor for this tidbit of knowledge!) Although the ants were not technically causing harm, I needed to do something about the other guys buggin’ me.

I work at AM Leonard – a horticultural tool & supply company – and won a Jacto backpack sprayer @ a lunch & learn event and couldn’t be happier with it after the first usage the other day. The salesman who presented to us did an awesome job of selling them, but that’s easy with a great product. Pressure gets up to 45psi with ~6 pumps, so you’re pumping less & spraying at an optimal pressure. Another nice feature is that it has an internal piston pump which prevents any leakage if the pump did fail – but that is rated for something crazy like 10,000 spray hours!

In order to control issues in the garden, you must take proactive, preemptive & preventative measures in order to guarantee your yields. A couple days ago I took the Jacto for a test-run & sprayed the following:

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Diatomaceous Earth – This is a dust that is made up of fossilized remains of a type of hard-shelled algae and it works as an insecticide in 2 different ways. One, it is very abrasive & sharp on the microscopic level. This will cut any insect with an exoskeleton. Diatomaceous Earth also has a property about it that absorbs lipids (fats) from the outside of the exoskeleton, causing it to dehydrate & die – pretty grim, bleak, morbid, whatever, but I want some Golden Raspberries.

Neem Oil – Neem comes from the fruits & seeds of the neem tree which is native to India & is used in a wide variety of products ranging from shampoos & toothpastes to insecticides. In the garden it is used as an insecticide, miticide AND fungicide. Several of the insects in controls are: mealy bug, beet worm, aphids, the cabbage worm, thrips, whiteflies, mites, fungus gnats, beetles, moth larvae, mushroom flies, leafminers, caterpillars, locust, nematodes and the Japanese beetle. Neem hasn’t been shown to be harmful to mammals, earthworms, or beneficial pollinators as long as it isn’t in their home or on food sources. It also controls several diseases & fungi, but just to make sure I added another.

Monterey Complete Disease Control Biofungicide/Bactericide – Another organic product, this Complete Disease Control is a beneficial strain of bacteria called Bacillus amyloliquefaciens strain D747. This product offers broad-spectrum preventative control for fungus & disease for all types of plants. Again, it is bee-friendly & OMRI-listed (approved for organic cultivation).

Neptune’s Harvest Organic Fish and Seaweed Blend Fertilizer 2-3-1 – This was brought to my attention through a lunch & learn @ AM Leonard as well. Being in sales, using the products is the best way to figure out what to recommend & organic food production is a big deal nowadays. Not only that, but this fertilizer company uses quality fish and cold presses them to help retain the fish’s natural oils & nutrition levels. Seaweed is known to provide 50+ micronutrients as well as some other benefits including: more disease-resistant plants, increased uptake of nutrients and bigger yields, and may help your plants retain more water. I know we have a lot of water in the ground from all the rain this year, but I swear the plants all grew exponentially overnight after that first application – we’ll see how it all shapes up!

All of these products were mixed up and sprayed from the sprayer. I wouldn’t recommend using the diatomaceous earth unless you have a diaphragm sprayer or a Jacto. My reasoning for that is because it is a chalky substance & may eat up a piston pump – a diaphragm will pump without the liquid touching the seals & grinding in the piston’s path. Jacto sprayers have an agitator attached to the internal pump. This will keep the diatomaceous earth well-mixed & keep it from gunking up the sprayer.

Pest control is no fun, but no food is even less fun, so it’s gotta be done! Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions, concerns, or would like to drop some knowledge on me! Also feel free to give me a call @ AM Leonard 888-558-8665 x155 (or dneth@amleo.com) if you need help with your gardening supplies – mention this blog & I’ll be happy to hook you up with 10% off and Free Shipping.

Happy Gardening!

 

 

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Samsung Galaxy S8 Review

I just recently upgraded to the Samsung Galaxy S8 & so far I absolutely love it! A few months ago my S7 Edge took a fateful fall from my hand & shattered right by the home button, effectively sending a spiderweb fracture throughout the bottom third of my screen.

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Everything was fine until the cracks kept spreading (and I may have dropped her a few more time), but once it started cutting my fingertips up, I decided it may be time for a new phone.

I have been stuck on Samsung since the S3 & had been considering a few other options for this upgrade. The first phone I really wanted to test out was the Google Pixel because of the camera & because I was curious how well Google’s first phone turned out. I was also considering the iPhone, but both the iPhone & the Pixel will have newer version coming out later this year – so that’s a little bit of a deterrent knowing that you’re basically purchasing an obsolete machine.

Enter the Samsung Galaxy S8!

Unbox Your Phone – This was a huge selling point for me. The S8 has a screen similar to the S7 Edge in that the screen is curved on the right & left sides which gives the appearance of a wider, more immersive screen. Samsung also decided to do away with a physical home button – it is now all screen, all the way down. There is about 1/8″ @ the top & bottom of the phone that isn’t screen, but it is unreal how much larger this makes the phone seem!

Screen & Feels – The S7 Edge was a great phone, but I feel that the S8 is the optimized version. First of all the S7 Edge has a more curved edge which led to some interference issues if you didn’t have a case adding a little buffer (may be touching edge while texting). The S8 is perfect so far & haven’t had any issues with the Edge being too sensitive.

The S8 also feels a lot better in your hand – really reminds me of the S5 which was a little less wide than the following models. The S7 Edge’s dimensions are 150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm & the S8 measures in @ 148.9 x 68.1 x 8.0 mm. This is a huge deal because that difference of 4.5mm means you can reach those apps that usually require you to use 2-handed operation.

 

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5 Different Color Options – COPYRIGHT © SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS CO., LTD

 

Camera

Samsung’s cameras are top-notch & the S8 is no different – other than it’s slightly improved. The front camera is 8mp & the rear camera is 12mp. Both feature a F1.7 lens and include a multitude of filters/editing options.

Features:

  • Auto
  • Pro
  • Panorama
  • Selective Focus
  • Slow Motion
  • Hyperlapse
  • Food
  • Virtual Shot
  • Filters
  • Selfie Enhancement
  • Drawing & other Snapchat-like Features
  • Bixby Vision – translates text & you can shop for products by taking pictures

Bixby

In a few of the reviews I read on the S8, people were dogging on the Bixby assistant. Makes sense considering that it only supports Korean for voice, but will be adding English in the near future – you also have the Google assistant, so not sure about the need for Bixby in that capacity. There is a Bixby button underneath the volume buttons on the left side, or you can swipe left from the Home screen.

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Screenshot of Bixby interface

I think Bixby is awesome because it curates all of your highlights into a feed – which is the basis for every addictive social media site we scroll through everyday. Components of the feed include:

  • Facebook trends
  • Youtube
  • Photos
  • Reminders
  • Weather
  • S Health Activity
  • Flipboard – News, Sports, Business, Science, Entertainment, Technology, etc.

I’m only a couple days into using it, so I don’t have a lot of testimonial to it, but seems super convenient & I feel like it will help me keep things organized, and stay up-to-date on relevant news & stories.

Overall, loving this phone so far. Tons of awesome features, professional-grade camera, high quality display, Bixby, and the list goes on! Oh, and forgot to mention that it’s waterproof – so it really does do everything.

 

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New Year’s Resolutions

How are your Resolutions shaping up?

Every year we talk about resolutions & what we dream of achieving, or people talking about how quickly they are broken, how they don’t work, blah blah etc. – but then you never hear about it again. Where is the follow-through?

Here’s my resolutions list for 2017:

The blogging started off as a little bit of a challenge. I wasn’t really sure what to be writing or how I should write it. And what could I write that others haven’t done before me? I think this is a huge deterrent to people writing – there are so many writers out there sharing their opinion, so why does it matter what I have to say? The biggest takeaway for me has been to just start writing. My buddy Tony has been the biggest inspiration with his success he’s had with his blog & his advice to just start writing. Now I have a decent mix on my blog of personal opinion, mixed in with my gardening posts.

The goal of weekly yoga turned into almost daily yoga in order to combat some serious tightness I have in my shoulders, hips, & just general muscle tightness/soreness from weight lifting. Yoga has nearly alleviated all of the chronic pain I was having in my clavicle & neck and I’m even able to run again because my muscles feel so great! (My hips have been so tight & painful that it has limited my activities such as running & powerlifting.)

Morning lift is a tough thing to do. It means waking up early, preparing yourself for a highly intensive work out, and just following through. Lifting in the morning is truly a breath of fresh air – nothing better than taking a step outside into the dewy morning after a lift, everything else in the world is asleep, but you have already conquered part of your world today!

My censored goals relate to money & projects that are in the works – don’t prefer to share those sorts of things, but being able to set a goal on your income is an empowering thing! Being in sales, my pay depends on my performance & I look to increase my pay at least 10% every year. I haven’t made that happen every single year, but I have my sights set on a certain number this year & would love to double it.

And finally, sell @ the Farmer’s Market! This is something I wanted to do last year but had no plan in place to guarantee that I would have produce every single week. This year I’ve got a better handle on things, have added a mixed portfolio of vegetables that should be yielding produce all season long – should be are the key words here! Anything that can happen, will happen in the garden – it all just comes down to preparation & execution.

I think people hate resolutions because they seem so unattainable; they want to completely flip their lives upside-down with no real clue of how to execute these goals. I always think of the episode of the Office where the boss, Michael Scott, gets mad @ his employees for not being able to follow their resolutions, “I made a resolution to floss, and I did it. 12:01, January first, BAM! Blood everywhere.”

If you want to do it, just do it. The biggest differences for me the last couple years is that I’ve written my resolutions down & kept them in a safe place to check periodically through the year. Before that I would have one big goal to tackle, but life is so much more – you don’t have to punish yourself, figure out what you want & make it happen.

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Spring Gardens North & South 2017

This year is my first full year in my new home (and Garden of Gains South). I had moved in at the end of July 2016, had a garden that I quickly plowed in the first week, but now I have a full season, and am much more organized & intentional with my planting this year.

Fast forward to 2017 & finally got the home garden fully planted! I listened to Googled sources on my frost dates last year & paid for it when my tomatoes were hit with frost; this year I listened to local legend & waited until after Mother’s Day to plant the delicate plants – most everything besides the berries.

This garden consists of:

  • San Marzano Tomatoes
  • Early Girl Hybrid Tomatoes
  • Jalapeños
  • Habaneros
  • Bell Peppers
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Boyne Raspberries
  • Pink Champagne Currant
  • Apache Blackberry
  • Cilantro
  • Basil
  • Mammoth Dill
  • Romanian Red Garlic
  • Strawberries

It really doesn’t seem like I have that many different varieties, but I do usually get carried away when it comes to plants..

The Boyne Raspberries, Pink Champagne Currant, and Apache Blackberry were planted earlier in the spring, plus I had an Anne Golden Raspberry that is thriving in its second year.

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Boyne Raspberries, Anne Golden Raspberry in background of this row. Row to the left consists of Jalapeños, Habaneros, & Bell Peppers

 

I’m trying something new for my tomatoes & pepper plants this year. For the tomatoes & half of the peppers I am using red mulch film under them. This will suppress weeds, help the soil retain moisture, and heat. I also have black ground cover fabric over half of the Pepper bed to test if there are significant differences in yield. The good this about the black ground cover is that it is woven – meaning that water & nutrients can pass through the fabric. The red mulch film is plastic & therefore repels water – didn’t really think the irrigation issue through before doing all that. There is a small hole around the plant so I can still set up some drip irrigation if needed.

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The Garden of Gains South. Tomatoes in the foreground, raspberries along the left side & the Pepper bed in the middle. I have bamboo stakes at every planting site – 5-6′ for the tomatoes & 3′ for the peppers. And Twiggy is singing the national anthem.

Probably going to have to replace a few of the weaker transplants. My tomato & pepper seedlings were grown under T5 fluorescent lights for about 6 weeks & didn’t really know what to think of the Sun.

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Weird roots growing from my tomato seedlings

Gardening for Gains North is @ my parents’ house & is where is all began. I’ve currently got ~1000 onions comprised of 10 varieties planted along with much smaller amounts of beets, radishes, turnips & a bunch of sunflowers coming back again from last season. I mainly chose that combination because it is pretty low maintenance, the garden is 30 minutes away from my home & I planted things close enough that it should eliminate a ton of weeding – we’ll see how this theory pans out though.

Nothing better than watching & facilitating the growth from seedling to garden – it is so satisfying to be able to complete this journey for a good amount of seedlings! This is only the beginning, now the name of the game is prevention of disease & pests and managing growth. Happy gardening, hope you make some gains this year!

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Giving Your All

Raise your hand as high as you can.

Now raise it higher.

Were you able to raise your hand higher when I told you to do so? Why?

I remember the first time this stunt was pulled on me in school & it blew me away. Literally everyone was able to reach higher. They eventually stood on desks, chairs & tippy-toes with arms reaching skyward.

This leads us to 2 questions: why aren’t you giving it your all? What does it take for you to give it your all?

Why aren’t we giving it our all? Of course we can’t operate at 100% efficiency 100% of the time, but what are you saving all your energy for? Are you running a marathon later? Every day is just another day if you’re holding back, but if you just reach an inch higher – how would that affect you? You may just ask that question that you were afraid of asking and get an answer you wanted, but not the one you expected – just reach one extra inch when you think you’re @ the end of the ladder & see how high you can climb.

What does it take to give it your all? If asking for your best doesn’t actually bring out your best, what will? We can continue to ask to go higher & higher, but it’s an endless & maddening game. I feel that Growth is a natural thing, every thing in life is geared towards growth & self-improvement, but the call to go higher is inspired by outside forces, yet cultivated from within.

Next time you reach up, stretch just a little bit higher & you might get exactly what you want.

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Life & Luck

And at this point all I can really do is laugh. Murphy’s Law – what can happen, will happen. I don’t like to say it the way people normally say it because who is to say it is right or wrong – sometimes it just happens.

I consider myself lucky for having medical bills to pay considering that everything came back normal. I have been in a state of gratitude since then, not taking anything in life for granted, trying not to complain, and generally just living for the moment.

Earlier this week we hit 85 here in Ohio & my air conditioning has been out since the fall (and I procrastinated the service call). Finally made a call & learned that my ~35 year old furnace isn’t kicking electricity to my 18 year old ac unit. I was hoping it was only electrical, but since the furnace is so old, it’s a liability to work on & the parts are no longer being made. Basically I have a nice big investment to make in a new furnace & air conditioning unit 🙂

This isn’t all bad. The way I figure is that I can get a newer, more efficient model & probably make up the money I spent in savings on my utilities – Always a silver lining!

And all I can do is laugh! As I sit in this Honda dealership, pecking away on my Mac & probably annoying the shit out of everyone here (damn Millennials!) – I just got the new of a pretty penny’s worth of repairs on my car. What began as a routine stop in to repair a recalled airbag, get an oil change & tire rotation (oh, and 2 brake light bulbs needed replaced & needed to rethread my oil pan drain) turned into so much more when I asked them to check the reason why my car was vibrating so badly (other than that it’s a perfect car! lol).

So now the amount I thought I was spending today just increased 10x! Right after ole Johnny broke the news I began to feel sorry for myself. I wanted to call my girlfriend or my parents & just say wtf is going on, but you can’t ruminate on these things – this is life! What can happen – will!

There are other options – I can suffer through the heat. People have lived without A/C for hundreds of thousands of years! But there’s also the option for payment plans & financing too, so let’s not get too crazy.

Another option is to find “cheaper” solutions or to ignore my vehicular issue & wait for my engine to drop completely out since my Motor Mount was completely crushed! Or as the HVAC salesman put it to me, “we could put a really expensive bandaid on this.”

I believe him too. We have all tried to take the easy way out; to cut corners to find solutions – how did that work out for ya?

A cheap solution will prolong the problem & be a consistent drain on your finances until the root issue is truly resolved. How does the saying go? “The bitterness of poor quality is remembered long after the sweetness of low prices are forgotten”

But I think the bottom line here is the most important – how you react emotionally & logically to stressful situations will determine your success through them & beyond them.

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Why Wait to Write?

Why write?

Why not?

After suffering for 4-6 months from on-again, off-again pain in my neck, shoulder, clavicle area I finally had to get it checked out. The doctor I saw looked concerned by the way my clavicle was noticeably popping out on the right side near my breast plate. Almost immediately I was referred to a surgeon.

Surgery on an injury in that area is extremely rare, but if it had to be done, it looked pretty nasty – basically like open-heart surgery (worst-case scenario).

But that wasn’t my worst case scenario.

What if this came back that I have cancer.

New worst case scenario.

I began thinking & acting much differently. I remember thinking that if I did have cancer that I would stop living so carefully. I would say what was on my mind, not let opportunities slip by, not think of my responses after-the-fact; I would take life by the horns, take a leap & maybe even start my own business – what would I have to lose if I was told that my life was in the grips of that!?

X-ray, CT scans & an MRI was taken – next I waited a week to meet with the surgeon for results.

My x-rays were fine as expected, but it was the CT & MRI that I was most worried about – they would reveal the truth. And Truth is that I was never worried that my shoulder was torn or that there was structural damage; I was worried that something else was growing inside me other than my anxiety.

Finally the surgeon broke the news to me – There was nothing wrong!

As he said, though, “That’s not to say you’re completely crazy!”

He was glad that I came in & told me a story about his sister-in-law that was complaining of the same thing. She came in, got the MRI and when the doctor analyzed, there were masses in her breasts. Her husband was on a hunting trip in Alaska with no cell service & this doctor had no other choice but to tell his brother’s wife the bad news.

I’m not exactly sure that this story comforted me, but it reaffirmed my reason for being there.

Prescriptions were given to me along with an okay to continue lifting – very slowly & meticulously. I didn’t fill the scripts, but with help from yoga, more mindful practices, and expert advice from my (natural) bodybuilding brother – I was sent on my way.

But what about my dreams? What about starting a business & taking life by the horns?

No, I didn’t take any giant leap; I didn’t start a business – I just began investing in myself. It took me a while to realize “Hey, just because you’re okay doesn’t mean you need to abandon your wildest dreams!” Writing & blogging has been on my list of things to do for the past year at least. I’ve published a few things on my WordPress site but was not consistent. With a jolt from things that have happened to me & inspiration from close friends, I’ve decided life is too short to not take chances, and besides – you’ll be judged either way!

Every case of life is terminal. Until you wake up & start to live – you’re just surviving. You have this one life & I have one question: what will it take for you to live it to the fullest?

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Mom gets a Day, but gave us a Lifetime

I have the best Mom in the world.

Correction: my Mom is the most dedicated, hardest-working, & most thoughtful person in the entire universe. My SuperMom worked full-time AND did the full-time Mom thing on level 9000 – keeping the house clean (like spotless clean, I would eat dinner off of the bathroom floor if she served it there), always had healthy snacks & fun activities lined up after school, and dinner was always home-cooked & healthy. Thank you for making me eat healthy, not letting me drink pop, and teaching me to love to exercise!

There’s also a big reason that I place such great value on waking up early & it all goes back to my Mom. Throughout our childhood she sacrificed for us by waking up in the wee hours of the morning- most times around 3am – so that we didn’t have to spend as much time at the babysitters & so that she could be home with us after school.

And speaking of school – thank you for making me love to learn! There was never a shortage of books to read, activity books to do, puzzles, logic games, coloring, the list goes on – thanks for filling my big head with curiosity & a love for knowledge!

My childhood was everything that one could hope it to be because of you, Mama. With everything from making homemade play dough & clay, helping you bake cookies & cake, painting rocks, playing with our Batmen toys in the tub, building Legos, and all of the picnics and walks through Tawawa Park – there truly are too many great memories to pen them all down; bottom line is that I love you for all of it!

A lot of times it goes unnoticed – we definitely don’t say “thank you” or “I love you so much” enough because you are always so on-top of things that we just don’t know any different than to be spoiled!

So all I can say is – I love you Mom, thanks for being the best; thanks for teaching me, nurturing me & helping me find Happiness 🙂

Adam & Danny
My brother Adam (5) on the left, I’m on the right (8) & rocking the bull cut.

 

 

 

#momskills #mothersday #writing #life #inspiration #thankyou #grateful #love