EPIC [ep-ik]: heroic; majestic; impressively great

I love tuesdays! Each week, Cash and I go to our Mom’s Group at Epic Church! It’s a chance for him to play and laugh with his friends, while I grow and learn with a bunch of Epic moms! Last Tuesday our incredible Bible Study Group leaders arranged for a little “Mothers Day” pampering party!

These “Epic Church” moms are the definition of epic:

EPIC [ep-ik]: heroic; majestic; impressively great.

The thing I will miss MOST about leaving San Francisco is this church and these moms!

But I truly believe distance means so little when someone means so much! These ladies will forever be my friends and family!

Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it

Proverbs 22:6 KJV

a journey “home”

When my husband and I moved to San Francisco 16 months ago, I came along kicking and screaming. It was nothing personal against the city itself; it was just how personal New York was to me.

In the beginning, I never really gave San Francisco a chance. In fact, I spent the first 6 months of our time here in the clouds… Literally. I was on a plane every other week traveling to LA for auditions and flying back and forth to the East Coast for work opportunities, teaching and family obligations. People began to make jokes calling San Francisco my “vacation home.”

After a heart to heart with the hubby, we quickly realized we were in San Francisco for a reason and not just for his work opportunity. We truly believe and believed that there was emotional, mental, spiritual and relational growth to be done in this gorgeous city. Therefore, it was time for me to stop collecting frequent flyer miles, stop comparing San Francisco to NYC and to start committing to San Francisco and all it has to offer. The first place I started was the church. At this time I was a soon to be mom, so I jumped into a moms group at Epic Church and never looked back. Not only did our church support our pregnancy and our marriage, but we created amazing friends that will forever be our family.

In addition, to the church and all the awesomeness it had to offer, our son was born in San Francisco, and it was an incredible experience. We received the most amazing care prior to his birth, during his birth and still are receiving so much TLC from our doctors, friends and teachers. In addition to that, Cash and I have become soooooo involved in the “mommy/baby community” enjoying everything from swim class and music class, to picnics and park play dates every week. We are staying busy, happy and healthy. So I guess you can say I took the idea of San Francisco being my “vacation home” to heart because it’s just that– Everyday feels like a vacation. Because of the beautiful weather, the friendly people, our amazing apartment complex and local coffee shops, everyday is heaven. I’m forever thankful to my husband for challenging me to step out of my comfort zone and comfort city and for helping me to see the beauty of San Francisco.

So it is with a heavy yet happy heart that we announce our journey back to the east coast. Our time in San Francisco has come to an end. We are officially going from the west side of the country back to being Westsiders of New York City.

And while we are elated to be reunited with family and friends and to start again in the city of opportunity, I will be leaving a peace of my heart in San Francisco.

Thank you Epic Church and our San Francisco family for teaching us the true meaning of friendship and support. Thank you sunny California for teaching my son about Mother Earth and nature, and thank you to my husband for giving our family this amazing opportunity!

7 months… the mom club…

Mothers day!

Since I turned twenty-five, I’ve always wanted to “turn back the hands of time”… In fact, for my thirtieth birthday my cake said “happy twenty-fifth birthday”.

However, over the last few years I’ve realized that life actually gets better with each year that passes… New year– I’m an Aunt… New year– I graduate from college… New year–  new job… New year– plan a wedding… New year– married… New year– new home… New year– pregnant… New year– BABY!

Each new year brings new “clubs” and with those “clubs” comes new adventures and new feelings!  I keep thinking there is no way life can get better than this… but than it does.

Don’t get me wrong, with age comes responsibility.  The struggles are real and so are the growing pains.  But these trials makes me a warrior, they makes me stronger, they make me a better friend, sister, wife, daughter, mother!

This year I am celebrating my first official Mothers Day! What a blessing!

Proving that once again with each year life keeps getting better!

Thank you Cash and Devin for bringing me into the best club EVER! MOTHERHOOD!

 

Happy 7 months to my baby boy!

Well kid we did it. Our first solo trip without Daddy. You were an angel, and I was a warrior. From lugging all the luggage from the West Coast to the west side of manhattan to lining up baby sitters and housing to organizing visits and play dates all while working.

I feel stronger than ever and more blessed than ever.

While mommy went to work you spent time with your God parents, your BFF Jesse and just about everyday with Aunt Rachel (the lifesaver)!

It has been an awesome month!

Seven months looks good on you!  You are doing so many new things! You are officially sitting up all on your own and love it!!!!! You very rarely fall over and are managing to keep that big old noggin up at all times! In fact, you are bouncing and rolling and moving around all the time. Your dad and I think you are working hard to add crawling to your resume.

Things you love: Any time Nemo comes around you, when I sing AND ACT OUT  “I’m A Little Teapot”, playing peekaboo, being tickled, being kissed on the neck, and mornings!

You have graduated to the big boy tub and LOVE it. You splash and laugh all through bath time.

Speaking of splashing, you are officially swimming! You started your swim classes, and the teacher says you are a natural! Not one tear, even when you went under water for the first time. Maybe you will be an ironman like your daddy.

On top of all of that, I can say you are officially eating solid foods! We were off to rocky start, but you have got the hang of it now and eat three real meals a day… And by real meals, I mean what ever mommy has pureed for you! I’ve been making all your food and love doing it.
At the moment your favorite foods are pear, banana and avocado mixed together (banana avocado smoothie as Uncle Matt calls it) and prunes.

You and your dad officially have that boy bond thing happening. I love to watch it. Your face lights up when he comes home from work or back from the gym, and he makes you laugh and smile for hours. You have the best dad ever!

You and me are busy doing our thing. You know me… keeping us busy with classes, play dates, church, flash cards, walks and reading! You make my days full and fun.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t been all fun this month… Would you believe you got two more teeth? And these bad boys were not easy on you. You had an entire week of teething and sleepless nights. Your dad and I felt so bad for you. This was all happening while you were eating more and more solid foods. And those solids were doing a number on your tummy… but your a champ and seem to be pushing through (no pun intended).

Thank you, thank you, thank you for being the world’s best baby. Thank you for hours of entertainment and smiles. Thank you for being you… we promise to make sure you always feel like you are enough… we promise to communicate, teach, protect, pray, love, laugh and cherish you.

6 months… paging doctor cash…

Grammie and Cash to the rescue.

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In month 6, you and Grammie nursed daddy and helped him get back on his feet after he had ACL surgery.

Grammie not only kept track of Dad’s meds, bandages and exercises, but she made sure there was food on the table and plenty of Grammie/Cash play time!

 

It wasn’t all work for Grammie. Your daddy did give her one day off to enjoy the California sunshine and some top San Francisco tourist spots. You slept the whole time… as usual. However, Grammie and I made the most of our day by enjoying fish and chips at the Wharf and shopping for your cousin Landon. We had a wonderful time!

It’s been a month of

solidifying everything you started learning in month 5!

You are officially sitting up, saying “Dada,” and now you have graduated from eating your toes to eating solids (or at least mommy tries to get you to eat your solids).

You don’t “love” this whole solid food eating thing… Your first food was a taste of an apple, and you loved it. So when the doc gave me the okay to start officially feeding you, I thought you would dive in… It was more like spit out.

Your first official food was avocado, and you literally gagged. So I moved on quickly to sweet potatoes… Still gagged… Then I tried pear, and we made some progress, but I think it’s only because Grammie was feeding you.

Finally, through recommendation of Aunt Lauren, we tried avocado and banana mixed together. You actually liked it! From there, you and I have been exploring new foods 2 to 3 times a day trying everything from beans to organic puffs. I’m trying to find something you can sink your teeth into… That’s right you have acquired MORE teeth. You now have a tooth for each month you have been alive! SIX TEETH!

 

Your stats:

Weight: 22 pounds

Height: 29″

Clothing Size: 12-18 months

Head: Sooooo big!

Your dad and I are having more fun with you than ever.

You love music class with me (you light up the minute teacher Heather starts singing or playing an instrument). You also enjoy all your play dates with Emory and Maya and don’t mind that I take you everywhere I go… You and I have become regulars at the grocery store and Philz Coffee Shop.

I try not to hog you toooooooo much… you looooove playtime with daddy. Especially when he uses his hand i.e. “the claw” to make you laugh and giggle.

Thank you for filling the home with laughter and giggles and for filling our hearts with happiness and wholeness. We love you more and more each day!

We continue to pray that God will bless you.

We pray for protection to keep you healthy and happy and that you will be brave, confident and valiant!

Here is to 6 months!

forgiveness + hope = celebration

EASTER

Devin and I have so much to celebrate this Easter.  But then again, don’t we all?

Jesus’ blood was shed on the cross so that we may be forgiven.

Christian or not… Easter is a great reminder of forgiveness and hope.

In fact, Mark 14:50 says that Jesus’ Disciples “left” Jesus when things got tough. Obviously, I’m paraphrasing but my point is… even the Disciples made mistakes.  They abandon the “big” Man during His darkest hours, some lied, some cheated, and for a moment some even lost faith…  Jesus’ Disciples, His band of brothers, His bff’s, His boys did not live a “sinless” or “blameless” life, yet Jesus never gave his friends the silent treatment, he didn’t judge them, he didn’t talk bad about them… He forgave them and had hope in their ability to be better. He helped them. He inspired them. He didn’t give up on them.

Regardless of your belief in the Bible or your belief in Religion may you let this holiday inspire you to judge less and forgive more…

May we have hope in the broken, hope in the hopeless and even hope in those we don’t understand or those who don’t understand us.

I am grateful everyday for the ability to forgive and to be forgiven…

and thus a reason to celebrate…

and throw a party…

and eat lots of Cadbury Creme Eggs… among other things… like a bundt cake.

 

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Cash’s First Easter Egg Hunt!

In many cultures around the world, the egg is a symbol of new life, fertility and rebirth… another reminder of Easter’s ability to inspire one to have hope in a “fresh start”.

 

lets eat…

I’m not going to pretend that I am a master Chef… but after many years of burnt casseroles, tasteless vegetables, questionable meats and watching my mom cook up a storm… I have worked hard to make my husband happy when it comes time to ring the dinner bell (breakfast, lunch and dessert bell too).  However, just when I think I’m ready to debut my latest creation on “Top Chef” this whole baby thing has thrown a wrench in my prep time.

So… below are three of my favorite EASY recipes that take very little time and are big enough to feed a family! Enjoy!

MEXICAN LASAGNA

(Lasagna in a crockpot– what?!? Slow cooker recipes are the best kind of recipes for those of us with little ones… I can prepare it during Cash’s nap and it’s ready by his bedtime– hello life savor!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. of ground meat (Vegetarians can substitute black beans)
  • 1 pk taco seasoning
  • 16 oz salsa
  • 16 oz jar of Alfredo sauce
  • 2 cups of shredded Monterey jack/cheddar blend
  • 2 cups of shredded Mexican cheese
  • 12-14 uncooked lasagna noodles (no boil lasagna)

*special shout to my sister Jennifer (aka the Dip/Slow Cooker Queen — for the original version of this recipe… this is my modified version.

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Brown the beef with taco seasoning (or black beans for vegetarian option).  Be sure to “butter” the crockpot before you do the following. Put a thin layer of the salsa on the bottom of slow cooker then stir the rest of the salsa in with meat (or beans).

Mix the Alfredo sauce with all the cheese and now you are ready to begin layering.

Lay about three noodles down (I break them up to make them fit the “slow cooker shape” and then top with 1/2 of the cheese mixture.

Lay three more noodles down and top with 1/2 of the meat (or beans) mixture.

and repeat both layers.

When finished with all your layers pour 1/3 cup of water over the top.

Cover and cover on low for 4 1/2-5 hours

 

CHICKEN THANKSGIVING 

(yep… tis true another slow cooker recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 4 thawed chicken breasts (cut in bit size pieces)
  • 2 cups stovetop stuffing
  • 1 can of cream of chicken soup (you can substitute cream of mushroom soup)
  • 1/2 can of chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream

Mix soups and sour cream together in separate bowl. Coat pan (with butter or preferred product).  Lay chicken at the bottom of slow cooker.  Make the next layer the dry Stove Top Stuffing. Top with the soup/sour cream mixture.  Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours.

SMART DOG CASSEROLE 

(vegetarian) 

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of Smart Dogs (Smart Dogs are amazing vegetarian hot dogs– but you can substitute your favorite hotdog in this recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 package of corn bread (and any ingredients needed) * I use Marie Callender’s Organic Corn Bread mix — just add water *
  • 3 can of your favorite baked beans
  • 1/3 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup of BBQ sauce

Cut up hot dogs in bite size pieces and sauté on stove top with butter.  In separate bowl mix BBQ sauce and brown sugar and beans.  Add the beans mixture to the sautéed hot dogs on the stove top… once heated put it in a casserole dish.  In a separate bowl make the cornbread mixture and pour that overtop of the beans/hot dog mixture that has been placed in casserole dish.

Bake at 425 for 25-30 minutes.

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FIVE months… insert foot in mouth!

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FIVE months… insert foot in mouth!
(you officially are obsessed with your feet)

You have been very busy this month… and I’m not just talking about music classes, play dates, picnics and trips to Los Angeles. I’m talking rolling over, discovering your toes and cutting TWO teeth. You have been so busy learning how to use your hands and body that I think you forgot how to sleep through the night. Well, who can blame you? After all, if I was discovering all that goodness, I wouldn’t want to sleep either.

Teething was not your finest moment, and as a mom, it was hard not being able to make the pain go away. Thankfully, 5 days later you were smiling and showing off your new “big boy” smile. It’s the same smile you flaunt every time you role over!

You and I have been making trips to Los Angeles for my auditions and meetings, and you have been an angel every step of the way (even on the six hour car ride). We have had a ton of mommy/son time this month while Daddy stayed busy traveling to NYC and France for work.

While in LA, you met so many new faces and were reunited with some of your favorite faces: Nana, Aunt Lyndsy and Uncle Schram.  They all continue to say the same thing… that you are so fun to be around! (Your father and I agree)

(meeting Teyonah and Corey)

Aunt Lyndsy not only welcomed us and our car load of cribs, play mats, bathtubs, toys and strollers, but she babysat you during my acting classes, auditions, photos shoots and meetings. We owe Aunt Lyndsy big time! You love her and laugh at everything she does!  You are already ladies man!

(Aunt Lyndsy time is the best time)

Speaking of laughing, you are obsessed with “Itsy-Bitsy Spider!” It’s a guaranteed good time for you and has come in handy during many a photo shoot and post bath time diaper change.

While we were in LA, Nana flew across the country to visit us and help take care of you! Your father and I are forever grateful for Nana and her flexibility and willingness to help at the drop of a hat. We were able to play tourist while she visited, and you loved every second of it. From checking out the walk of fame, Hollywood Boulevard and The Santa Monica Pier to visiting and shopping in Beverly Hills and becoming an “Oscar Award” winning 5 month old, you had quite the month!

 

While LA was very exciting, we have been staying busy in San Francisco too with your girlfriends Emory and Maya, as well as Superbowl parities, playdates, picnics in Alamo Square (aka the “Full House” park) and music classes with your friend Cade!

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(Alamo Square, San Francisco)

 

(music class with Cade)

Some stats: at your Four Month check up you were just under 20 pounds and measured at 29″!  When strangers ask us how you old we always get the same reaction… after the jaw drop they normally say “wow, big boy”.

Things I don’t want to ever forget about this magical month: How everything goes from hand to mouth (especially your feet), how excited you were when we toured Hollywood– you laughed, sang and were mesmerized the whole time, the smile you give me when you wake from your nap, the pterodactyl dinosaur sounds you make when you are super excited, how loud you get when you are tired, the dimples on your hands and the “fat” rolls on your wrists, how curious you are about the dog and cat and light fixtures and most of all how every night this month you fell asleep in my arms!

Aunt Jenine sent us this poem. 5 months into motherhood and I already know it to be true…

Ten Things Your Mom Never Told You

You made her cry… a lot.
She wanted the last piece of pie
It hurt
She was always afraid
She Knows she’s not perfect
She watched you as you slept
She carried you a lot longer than nine months
It broker her heart every time you cried.
She put you first
She would do it all again

road trip…

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Two weeks ago, my husband and I took a road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles. During this time, when we weren’t doting over our son or admiring the beautiful scenery, we were having deep thought provoking conversations about life.

Monday, I made that same road trip, this time without my husband. Road trips always seem to offer me perspective, inspiration and restless leg syndrome. In any case, this quiet time gave me a moment to reflect on our conversations and the themes that keep coming up in our lives.

This quote came to mind and inspired todays post…

“Live without pretending. Love without depending, Listen without defending and Speak without offending.”

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To be offended and to offend is a tricky thing. In general, I think we all tend to take things too personally.

How many times a day, a week or a year do you think someone mistreated you? Maybe it was the cashier, your husband, your sister, your friend or your boss… The harsh reality is that, while we all need to be thoughtful and mindful, chances are that person wasn’t purposely trying to hurt you. In fact, they probably didn’t even know they hurt you.

Can you recall a time when a loved one or a co-worker told you that you had offended or upset them? I bet in 75% of those circumstances you couldn’t (a) recall the “said” situation, (b) you were dealing with other issues that same day, (c) you had other visions for their complaint and concern or (d) you genuinely believed in what you said or did. After all, while I believe everyone deserves a heartfelt apology if their feelings are hurt, we need to ask ourselves if we are just being too sensitive. The truth of that matter is just because you are offended doesn’t necessarily mean you are right.

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When Devin and I got married there were so many acts of kindness and selflessness. We thank God everyday for the many blessings our marriage brought. However, we couldn’t help but laugh (and cry) about the things some people said and did or didn’t do or didn’t say. It was our wedding, our moment, and yet some people had no problem letting us know our day didn’t necessarily align with their vision. It was so disheartening then and still is. However, this situation and unfortunately several other situations, have taught us that we can’t change how people treat us or what they say about us. All we can do is change the way we react.

“Knowing he’s easily offended, I offered him earplugs, rather than curbing my vulgarity. Who said I don’t love my fellow man?”

― Jarod Kintz, This Book is Not FOR SALE

123 days… and we are still obsessed…

Today Cash turns 4 months old!

I wish I could freeze time… it’s all going so fast. It was just one year ago we found out we were pregnant!

It has been a very eventful two months. So eventful, I didn’t have time to write at all during your third month! Sorry buddy! So todays post is dedicated to month THREE AND FOUR!

Dear Cash,

You are the BEST!

Your father and I stare at you while you sleep and talk about how much we love you.

We fight over who gets to push your stroller, change your diaper or sing you to sleep (well, in your dad’s case, “rap” you to sleep).

Your “publicity tour” began at 8 weeks old…

You traveled across the country and back meeting sooooo many people, and they all seem to share our sentiment. One word everyone used to describe you when they met you (besides “cute… huge, chubby, large and big”) was content.

You are officially a “traveling baby!” You were a rock star on your first flight and have flown 3 times since. Officially following in your parents footsteps from “west side to west side,” you transitioned perfectly from sunny Los Angeles to snowy New York.

You are our little west side to west sider.

We took you to NYC in the dead of winter where you rode in countless taxi’s, sat in on mommy’s acting classes, met some of your/our most favorite people in the world and learned to love your travel bed and your cheeks being pinched. The New York trip was so special for us to see so many people make you such a priority and swoon over you.

Unfortunately, your first road trip didn’t go as well as your first flight. On our trip from NYC to Pittsburgh you started to form an opinion about being stuck in a car seat… but lucky for you, at the end of the road trip you were reunited with your Nana and Aunt Jen and got to meet so many others… Aunt Jenine, Aunt Erin, Aunt Dona, Aunt Diane, all of your amazing Grandparents, all of your family, and all of our high school friends…

and who can forget your new “Aunts,” Missy, Nikki, Dana and Kelly… who all showered you with love, hugs and gifts.

However, as much as you enjoyed meeting all of those special people, something tells us you enjoyed your time with Cuz D and Cuz B the most. Your father and I are so grateful to our nephews Donovan and Brayden for showing you so much love and attention during their Christmas break! We reminded them everyday how you will look up to them, love them and count on them to be role models.

* Jeremiah 1:5 *

Since the day your father and I found out you were “on the way,” God has showered us with support and blessings. It was so important to us to have you dedicated at church the first chance we got, and…

WHAT. A DAY. IT. WAS.

You were dedicated at Amplify Church in Pittsburgh, PA. Pastor Lee Kricher, who married your father and I and who was a major influence in my upbringing, performed the dedication and service. If that isn’t special enough, you shared the stage with his granddaughter who is one of mommy’s dearest friend’s daughter.

Twenty of your closest family members shared this amazing moment with us!

After a magical Christmas and New Years, hundreds of new friends and out growing EVERY article of clothing I packed for you, your six week publicity tour ended, and we headed back to San Francisco.

As things quieted down, we were able to recognize all of your three AND four month “baby mile stones”… cooing, grabbing, laughing, trying to roll over, neck and back strength, sleeping in your crib, becoming aware of everything around you, acclimating to scheduled naps, forming opinions about toys, music, and mommy and daddy’s jokes…

Your favorite moments are when daddy reads you, “Green Eggs & Ham” and when I sing you “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” These are two sure ways to see your toothless, ear to ear smile that melts our hearts!

 

Just when we think we can’t love you anymore, you grab ahold of our hand with your little fingers, look us in the eye and smile. Our wish as parents is that we will not take these moments for grated and that we will always take time to hold hands and smile! Happy Four Months!

 

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little girls… big dreams…

Being an actress and performer has given me the opportunity to do some really cool things. For the last several years, I have had the privilege of hosting an amazing event dedicated to young women and their dreams. It’s an honor to be the national host for National American Miss, one of the countries most prestigious and talked about youth pageants. As a dreamer myself, it is awesome to be given a platform where I can inspire young women to stay the course and follow their dreams.

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“Pageant”

I know when most people hear the word pageant they are skeptical and somewhat judgmental of what pageantry represents and what it can actually do for young ladies pursuing professional careers.

Reality television shows  and silly “stage mom” stories have done a number on how people view pageants.  And while I can’t speak for every pageant, I have been involved with National American Miss long enough to know that this organization (and the people that created it) firmly believe in the ability to turn little girls into confident young women, who are no longer just dreamers but who are achievers. This particular pageant system goes beyond crowns and banners and provides training and experiences that equip the contestants with valuable skills such as how to speak in front of a large audience, remain poised under pressure and ace an interview.  In addition to these hard skills the program provides resume and job application experience, affords young women countless opportunities to give back to their communities, entertainment industry exposure, college scholarships, cash awards, strong academic influence and a sisterhood that often lasts a lifetime.

… if that isn’t enough to prove this organization is not your “typical pageant” contestants under the age of thirteen are not allowed to wear make up and unlike many televised pageants, there never has been and never will be a swimsuit competition. It is so refreshing to watch young women thrive in an atmosphere that not only encourages confidence but it encourages kids to just be kids.

 

Who is a “pageant girl”?

There is a list a mile long of noteworthy women who got their start in pageantry: Beyonce, Halle Berry, Oprah, Diane Sawyer, Vanessa Williams, Deborah Norville, Nancy O’Dell, Eva Longoria, Demi Lovato and even yours truly… I’m a former Miss Pennsylvania Teen and proud of it!  I can trace some of my proudest accomplishments back to this pageant moment… not to mention some of my most prized friendships.

Organizations like National American Miss inspire young women to dream big and it gives them the platform to hone their skills and build their confidence.

Thank you, National American Miss for giving me the opportunity to meet your amazing City, State and National delegates and for giving young ladies a safe positive environment to grow.

Dear National American Miss Girls–  You inspire me! I am in awe of your talents and abilities, your desire to change the world, and your dedication to your dreams! Don’t ever give up!

namiss.com

 

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