September

What does September evoke in you?

Allow me to ramble about…September. People I love. How we can pray for each other.

For me, September means…Mom.

My Mom’s birthday is in September.

For me, September means…Losing Anja. 

We lost Anja a day before Mom’s birthday, two years ago.

We lost Mom three and a half years ago.

So…I guess it makes sense that a couple days ago, I felt that familiar ache creeping across my heart. And I realized that…

It’s September.

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Making tea this morning…using my Mom’s favorite, Kenyan teapot. It used to set on her stove.

Ahh. How I long to talk with my Mom again. To hear her laugh.

And next week, we’re heading to Kansas. Two years ago, the twins and I were driving that same route. (So grateful that our Pastor and wife drove us up.) Because Craig had just called me and told me that Anja had been killed.

Honestly, that phone call with always be surreal in my mind and my heart.

And September will always carry an ache.

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Craig is feeling this…as only a man can feel when he loses his only sister. Anja was really a special person in his life.

And my kids?

Bomani has a lot more understanding of death than most kids his age. In fact, it catches me in the gut at the most surprise moments.

Like, we were having Bible Study yesterday afternoon, and the story was of Job. Bomani was quite thoughtful about all of Job’s children dying.

“Why did they die?”

“How did they die?”

I scrambled to make sense of a story I’m not sure I completely understand.

Then we got to the end of the story…where Job lives 150 or however many years after his difficult times, and “then he died”.

Bomani’s head came up.

“He died?”

I sigh gently.

“Yes.”

“Why did he die…?”

Ah, the ache. My litta’ boy.

And my girls? Yeah. I love that they remember Anja. I love that. Love.

A couple weeks back, Bomani randomly brought the framed picture out of their room. The one that Pop took when he came home from somewhere and there on the front porch sat Anja, holding Alex, with Bomani, Daisy, and Hazel next to her. It is beyond precious.

Next thing I knew Daisy was curled up on my lap.

“Mom, I want Anja.”

“I know…I want her too.”

“I want Anja!” A small wail.

Oh goodness. This hurts the soul.

“I know. I’m so sorry…” Really. No words. How do you comfort a three year old?

“When we go to heaven, we will be with Anja again.”

“Mom, I want to die. So I can be with Anja.”

Ah. Yes. I hear you, child.

Want to pray for our family this month? Here are a few ideas, dear friends…

You can pray against fear. Honestly, if this happened, anything can happen. And you have a million questions what really happened. And what could happen. And…yeah. Fear isn’t from God. At all. Ever.

You can pray for God’s Truth to fill our hearts–all five of us, concerning the deaths. Truth.

You can pray for each of us, adult and children, that our sorrow and grief would open our hearts to our Father. That it would bring our hearts into God’s heart. 

And You can just pray for every one of God’s desires to be accomplished concerning these deaths. 

Not just in our hearts, but in the world. In the entire, big, amazing, scheme of things.

So instead of just saying…please pray for us this month, here are a few ideas. God will give you so many more ideas of how to pray too!

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Love to you all.

~Rachel

Ode to My NM Friends

Two things:

This is not technically an “ode”, as it is not in poem form. That would take longer than the 10 minutes I have to sit and write. :)

NM stands for Non Married.

:)

I’m thinkin’ about you today. What am I thinking?

You have my utmost respect. You are amazing…on different fronts. Not because you’re not married at this point in your lives, but just–because.

I’ve been married for seven years. I was nearly 28 when I got married. I had time to live life Non Married. I still have not forgotten that life.

It was awesome. I traveled. I had money. I slept at night. I hung out and partied.

I was lonely. I tried not to smell the tops of babies’ heads. (Okay, I don’t remember avoiding that, but really…the tops of babies heads smell sooo sweet…) And I was busy.

My life right now? Crazy. A nice, funny, and sometimes teary kind of crazy. I have four kids five years and under. And if I don’t stop smelling the top of my baby’s head, I may have a few more. My work never ends, as they say. I almost never sleep through the night. You think I look tired? It’s because I am tired. You think I look happy? It’s because I am happy.

And on the days you duck and hide when you see me coming? It’s because yeah…the way I look is probably the way I feel. Do stay away.

:)

I am not lonely. At.All. In fact, sometimes it looks appealing to be a bit lonely. :) Quiet? What is that? My house does not echo with emptiness. My heart is so full of people that half the time I feel like screaming.

That’s the kind of crazy I live right now.

You, my beautiful lady friends?

I remember your life. It is a good life. I loved teaching! I loved being a receptionist at a fun business. I loved going to parties and playing sports. I loved Sunday afternoons. I loved going to Joes for pizza. I could pick and choose what to fill my life with. Sort of. (Work was mandatory) If I wanted to go shopping just for fun–I’d do it!! I was slightly wild and adventurous. On my own.

I traveled. Oh my, I traveled. Every year, I had to go to a foreign country, sometimes two. I loved risking my life in foolish ways. Rappelling off a silo. Taking dangerous bus rides in Africa. I did my dreams. I did medicine in Kenya. I went to Thailand and experienced so many awesome, touristy things.

For me, I had to go find people to fill my heart. I had to find children to cuddle. That was hard. I wanted my own. I wondered what it would be like to bear a baby. The thought of having a fantastic man to love…? I tried not to think about it. Cuz it wasn’t happening. I found amazing people to hang out with. I found mentors and I found young girls to mentor. I taught all sorts of things like Sunday School and Bible School and Music…cuz I wanted my heart to be full of people. And just cuz I loved doing it.

It was a crazy life. I had to work. For years, I worked from 7:30 to 5:00. Then I’d come home. I had to make food. I had to do laundry. I had to clean every now and then. If I wanted to have a life outside of work, I had to set those things aside and go places and be with people. I didn’t eat very well. Ya know…cookies and iceberg lettuce. Fast stuff. Definitely the Big n Tasty at Mcds. If I went to someone’s house for dinner, I’d eye the left-overs and long for them. It would make a fantastic lunch for the next day.  I rarely cleaned my house. I was too busy. The years I taught school? I spent even more time at work. Saturdays might just be spent at work as well.

Sometimes I wondered what it would be like to have my own home and that’s all I needed to do–take care of it and the man/kids I love.

It looked easy. Really nice.

And it is.

Both are great lives.

Good lives. Just oh, oh, so different.

I want you to know that you are amazing.

You are strong. ( I was much “stronger” when I was not married. I can’t even remove a hook from a fish now.)

And you are beautiful.

I admire you. Honestly.

And I want you to know that you don’t need to do everything that people think you should be able to do “because you’re single”. You are actually very busy. You have a full life. I can cook a meal for you. Why? Because cooking is my job. Your job? Teaching school. Being a midwife. Being a college student. Being a social worker.

I know you love your life. You’re not pining away for a different one. (Okay, just on weekends four times a month) :) No, seriously, my NM friends love their lives. You are making the world a better place. You are changing it. I look at you in awe sometimes–just sayin’.

And…I’ll be honest one more time.

(I pray for a great man to sweep you off your lovely feet!)

Love you ladies.

~Rachel

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Two Things that Change My Life

Here are two things that have changed my life for the better. I am shamelessly promoting them. Why? Because you may want them! And no, I’m not gettin’ paid for this. 😉 Just want to share!

This hair brush. Someone told me about it in a comment, and I finally got it. A genius created it. I can comb my girls’ hair out in one minute flat, where before, it took 5-10 minutes of screaming and me wanting to join in. Something about the give of the bristles…it just works. Amazingly awesome. I sent off for one for myself too. Because I have terribly curly hair. I’m so grateful my girls did not inherit it. My hair is no joke to comb out. This brush? Ahhh…so so much easier.

The Wet Brush

And…The Stevia. This stevia has very little to NO aftertaste. We are so delighted and never want to run out! It comes from Bolivia, so I can’t vouch for it’s processing. But the ingredients say Stevia. So I decided to take them at their word. :) For us, this is so, so much better than sugar in our systems. I love cooking and baking with it. It’s crystals, so I use about half of amounts I used with the powder. Enjoy!

Bolivian Stevia

May your day be Blessed.

And Now…Time for a Picture Update

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Green Beans With Crunchies. I am having so much fun with my new cookbook!

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This was not from my new cookbook. I made up the crust recipe, and used a frozen peanut butter pie recipe I had in my stash. It was so good…I cannot begin to describe how good. I love chocolate and peanut butter. So yes. Amen.

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If you don’t get your bid in on the fresh, garden produce, Daisy will eat all the “begetables”.

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Bomani thought it looked like puppy ears. :)

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Last Sunday we went with Jonathons to a drive through zoo! It was amazing. Several hours of driving through countryside, watching and feeding animals. Loved it!

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I love giraffes.

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I got screamin’ homesick for Kenya.

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Craig made this sweet bench out of a huge “shelf” thing that Richard tossed onto our truck for us! We bought nothing…just used lacquer and stuff we had on hand. The holes he filled with something black. :)

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Isn’t my husband amazing? Yes.

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Desperate to get the grains out of my breakfast, I used the THM pancake recipe and subbed out the oats for almond, coconut flours, and chia seeds.

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I made pirate bands for the kids as per their request. Then Craig and I turned around and saw this…

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Put an avocado into your smoothie. Your life will never be the same again. :)

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Satisfying. Very Satisfying Eats.

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Taylor and Nicole came over to swim with our kids!

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It’s something new we started. It’s called “Bible Study” and we do it after naps in the afternoons. If we don’t get it done, Craig reads the story to them at night before bed.

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I highly recommend this story book! Holman is my favorite translation of the Bible. So it follows that I love their story book.

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A very nice, thick color book!

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The first time I did cauliflower rice. Love it!

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De boys. Love.

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Banana bread. Vanilla whipped cream on top. It was perfection on a plate…

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Twice Baked Cauliflower in potato skins. We loved it! Now I’m inspired to make potato skin croutons. :) Just a weird idea I had. Potato skins are so packed with nutrients! And the kids can eat the mashies…

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They were reading him a story. :)

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Had so much fun with this! I salted the avocado halves and popped an egg yolk into the hole. Added bacon on top and baked for a bit.

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Squeezed a bit of fresh lemon on top…

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Bedtime snack. :) Banana with cashew butter. Yum!

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And with that scary picture, we end the Picture Update.

Peace.

Fishing.

Some days it’s every ten minutes. Or less.

“Mom. I want to go fishing.”

“Mom, can we go fishing?”

Until finally one day instead of mumbling around because I don’t know what to say, I said,

“Bomani, we can’t.go.fishing! We don’t have a boat. We don’t have fishing poles. We can’t go fishing.”

He looked at me. Then he said…

“Okay! I can make a boat and fishing poles!” And he headed outside.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Or both. I hate disappointing him. I know what it’s like to want to do something really badly.  But I just can’t do all his ideas! He gets so many of them!

A while later he came in, very sad. He couldn’t find the right sticks…

That’s when I stood up, decided to be a real woman, and said…

“I’ll take you fishing. Just give me some time to figure it out.”

Ahh…the things I get myself into! And no, I’m not superwoman. I stopped trying to be that. Every day I really fail at being a great mom. But it’s okay. I’m trying. And today, I got up early to make pancakes so that when Bomani gets up, we could go fishing…

Okay, I got up early because Enzo needed to eat and then I couldn’t sleep anymore.

:)

I found a fishing pole I could borrow. I found a pond –just across the road, really!–where we could fish.

When I took Bomani to go borrow the fishing rod, he wondered where we’re going? I told him that we’re going to borrow a fishing pole and tomorrow we’re going fishing. He didn’t say anything. He just looked happier than he ever has in his life.

His mom nearly burst into tears.

Ahh, love that little man.

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Before you begin to crown me queen of fishing…let me continue.

Last night, the realization hit me. If he catches a fish, will need to unhook it! Yikes. I decided to watch a few youtube videos. Fishing is fairly foreign stuff to me. I typed in, “How to fish and remove fish from hook”. The first videos that popped up were “How to remove fish hook from arm”. That was not a good thing.

I did find a few videos of how to remove a hook from a fish. I finally told Craig that I think it’s better not to watch this…

This morning I researched a bit on fishing itself. Then we set out!

It took a bit until I figured out the pole. And casting. But when my first cast hit the water (not very far out!), I immediately hooked a fish! I didn’t even have time to hand the pole to Bomani! Frantically, I reeled it in. We stood there, amazed. The fish’s mouth yawned open. The hook was really close to the edge… But the inner outdoor girl in me, at that moment, failed me. :) I called my Knight in Shining Armor. He said that yes, he could come. :) Bomani and I stood there. I finally said, this is crazy! I took out a tissue, (you may laugh) and grabbed the fish and unhooked it. It was small enough that I threw it back in.

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Ahh. What fun. I really got into it! It was beyond gorgeous out there, so peaceful and so fun.

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Craig came and the twins each had a turn…still in their pjs and bloomers…

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Hazel, wearing Daisy’s pjs. It really messes up my head. :)

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I got to sit and hold this little pudge…

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My favorite picture of all. I need to frame it. :)

And we caught nothing more.

We did leave several hooks and bobbers and baits in the pond, however, and when the second set whizzed out on it’s own, apart from the rest of the pole, I said–no more. We’re buying our own stuff to fish with. :) And we came home. Bomani was sad that he didn’t catch anything! But there will be more fishing mornings…trust me. :)

And that is the story of how our Saturday began.

(P.S. I did find fresh salmon for $6 per lb or so, and we are having fish tonight!)

Soft Soap For Sale

So, my cold processed soaps are not hardening nicely. They are soft and crumbly. They still have a month to finish curing, but I’d like them out of my personal space. :) I am not interested in making liquid pump soap. So I’m selling these 12 chunks to anyone who wants them. I am making no promises. Buy at your own risk. :) I’ll sell them for $15 plus shipping. The “flavors” are two chunks of vanilla (no scent), and the rest is herbal..the oils I used to make herbal salves. They were very effective salves, so I’m thinking that this soap is pretty awesome. Just wish I would have known what I do now. I would have used it in the hot process method, because me and cold process don’t go. And I would have added enough beeswax and coconut oil to make a good, hard bar. But hey…life is life…learn and live…

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Enjoy!

 

This Life of My Food

Monday night was girls night for Enzo and I. (He doesn’t like girls’ nights.) :) I knocked together our favorite salad, Ranch BLT Salad, and took it over to Amber’s house. (I left a hefty bowl for Craig. :) ) We ate healthy food (Except for dessert. This was my first time to taste Gelato! It is beyond delicious.) and watched Julie and Julia. Ever heard of Julia Child? She wrote a French cookbook for Americans. Julia and her husband were not able to have children. She didn’t know what to do with herself. So he asked her, “What do you like doing?” Her answer? “Eating!” :)

So I’m just sayin’. If you get tired of me talking about food, delete my blog from your life. Because I love eating good food. I love eating gorgeous food. I love eating food that makes you want to cry. I love cooking. I love baking. I burn myself out cooking and baking. I offer to cook and bake for all the busy midwives and college students in my life. And there is only one reason that I do not weigh 200 lbs. (I might way 199. Just sayin’.) I believe in cooking healthy, satisfying, delectable food. And I love posting about it! And no, I don’t post most of the flops and…well, the food that really makes you cry. :) You know, gotta’ keep up the cool blogging mommy image. Ha ha!

Tuesday night Craig and I went on a double date with Jonathons. I am truly sorry I don’t have a picture of the four (six! two infants!) of us. We dressed up, as we were going out for French Cuisine, and we looked good. :)

I was so excited about this evening that I could hardly focus on the rest of my life. It was like the first time I ever ate real, French food.

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An exquisite, small place.

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A dream in every bite… I only wish I had taken pictures of every dish. Easily the top slice of the evening was the caviar appetizer. Amazing.

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Duck two ways. I finally tasted gnocchi!

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And…creme brulee.

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Craig’s dessert.

It was so, so awesome. The babies did really well! At the end, Enzo did begin to fall apart. :) From there we went and searched until we found a tea shop. :) My only picture from the tea shop was the enormous glass of water they gave.

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It was a fantastic evening. So fun! (Even if Enzo screamed the last 15 minutes on the way home. That, my friends, is a given. Every date. Amen.)

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Someday I am going to start my dream restaurant. Another day I will describe it in detail on my blog. :)

For today, I am going to drink my pot of Oolong Tea (this particular tea deserves to be capitalized. Always.)

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…and cook for the very most important people in my life…

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This is my new cookbook! I am beyond thrilled. I feel like I have been searching for it all my life. She believes like I do. She cooks like I do. She has so, so many recipes. It’s gold. In my hand. And her little boy looks like Enzo. :)

Peace and fantastic food to all.

My Friend Leslie

This post is really about Mama’s Healing Salve. But I can’t tell you about Mama’s Healing Salve until I tell you about my friend, Leslie.

Howard and Leslie are a big part of the core of our church. Granted, we have a small enough group that when one person is missing, you miss them. But I’m just sayin’. They are a big part of our church. The kind of people you know you can’t do without.

Leslie is a grandma. But she is not doing what she always dreamed of doing after raising her family. Why? Two reasons. Ethan is one. He is their second youngest son. 16 or 17 years of age. And he has cerebral palsy. Ethan is a fun, smart young man. With a great sense of humor. Deeply loved. And he takes a lot of time and a lot of energy. Leslie allows nothing to stop her. She searches and works for ways to keep advancing him and his abilities. She takes care of his needs. She hangs out with him and has a lot of fun. The second reason is Antoine. Antoine is her grandson. Both of his parents have been in and out of prison. Antoine, in the first year and half of his life, witnessed more violence and awful things than you want to imagine. He is a delightful child, full of love, with a good heart. He is also full of energy and life, and he is a big boy and very strong. At this point, his babyhood has done a lot of damage to him inside. His behavior needs to be constantly in check. He takes a strong, consistent hand. Lots and lots of love. More patience than I ever aspire to.

And this is Leslie’s life. Not a bad life. Just different. Full. And I might add…fairly intense.

(This is what I see looking in. :) My perspective.)

There are different reasons that we are friends. I might call her my mom/friend. But really, she is more of a friend than a mom. Yet, she does fill some of that mom thing in me. For instance, the other Sunday I was telling her with a bit of shamefacedness that I sort of spoil Enzo. I often give him whatever he wants. Like, sometimes He insists that I lie down with him for him to go to sleep for his nap, so I do. Leslie’s thought? Nothing wrong with that, in fact, that’s good! Babies know what they need when they need it. Keep listening to their hearts! I was greatly encouraged in this one area.

We also share a love of healthy living. Healthy food, healthy skin care, healthy –anything! That’s really fun. I love our church fellowship meals. You never know, between the interesting assortment of ladies, what we are going to get to taste! Love it.

Mostly, I know I am loved. It does not matter what decisions I make or what I do. Leslie will never love me less. That is like Jesus.

I wish I had a picture of the two of us. In fact, maybe I’ll pile my one hundred kids into the van and go over to her place and take one. :) But instead, I am going to blatantly steal a picture off of facebook for you. (Like seriously. Why can we just steal pics off there?) This is Leslie and Antoine.

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And now I’m going to give you her story, of how Mama’s Healing Salve began.

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Back when I had a small business doing natural skin care products, I made salve. I loved making salves! And my herbal salve was amazing. I remember one lady coming to my stand at the Farmer’s Market. She showed me a bad cut in her hand that simply was not healing. She took my salve. Several weeks later she came back for more. Why? Because within days of packing the salve into the cut, it began to heal from the inside out. So I loved my salve.

Then when Enzo was born, Leslie gave me several jars of her salve. And the short story? I am never making salve again. :) This salve is way above and beyond any kind of awesome I thought of my salve. I love the consistency. It is powerful. You can use it inside your mouth. You can put it into your eyes or even your baby’s eyes. It is supremely mild and gentle, while being powerful and effective. It’s anti about everything bad you can think of. After sun. Diaper rash. Ant bites. Deodorant. Any rash. After shave. Deep cuts. Bruises. Try it. You won’t want to be without it.

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I keep some in my nursery.

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I love the richness of the consistency.

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This tiny size is perfect for your purse or to take along traveling.

Just sharin’ the joy. :) If you want to order straight, go to the facebook page Mama’s Healing Salve. Or, Kansas friends, if you’d like some, I’ll save you shipping. We’re coming next month. :) Order through me or order straight. Either way works!

Peace.