Our Week in Isle of Palm/Charleston, South Carolina

Mike injured himself days before we left for South Carolina.  I dropped the GoPro in murky ocean water and then Tanner found it because it happened to brush against his foot.  We celebrated his 11th birthday with an boat and island tour of the barrier islands. Our nephews tried sushi for the first time and liked it, and watching the kids meet the ocean for the first time wasn’t bad either.  Just a very short recap of our relaxing week.  If Isle of Palms and Charleston isn’t on your travel list they should be.  Hope you enjoy the video we made of our time there.  Thanks for watching!  If you like it and want to see more travel videos in the future, you can head over to our YouTube channel to subscribe. Be sure to follow us on Instagram @thesejonesys and Facebook (These Jonesys) as well.

 

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A Couple’s Getaway Week in Puerto Rico

When our oldest was 5 and our 2nd born was 18 months, and before baby number 3 was born, Mike and I were lucky enough to travel to Puerto Rico without kids. The weather was beautiful at the end of November early December, and the people were the friendliest we have found anywhere we have traveled thus far. Even though Mike was technically there for a work convention, we had some time to explore in and around San Juan when he wasn’t working. We stayed at a beautiful resort on the beach that sat along side what was then Trump International Golf Club. I can’t find the name of the resort and Trump International has since gone bankrupt.  Had I had known I would be writing a blog post about Puerto Rico in the years following our trip, I would have done a better job documenting our week.  Regardless, there are so many options for resorts or hotels in Puerto Rico. Here’s a short breakdown of what we did during our week in Puerto Rico.

Golf in Puerto Rico

We golfed the beautiful golf course near our resort that sat right on the ocean. It tempted me of course to hit golf balls into the ocean, because who doesn’t want to do that a time or two? I also met Chi Chi Rodríguez there as well. If you don’t know who Chi Chi is, he was a very popular PGA player who walked the fairways with the likes of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino to name a few. He was also the first Puerto Rican to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. We stalked him for a hole or two before getting up the courage to interrupt his game for a quick picture. He was beyond gracious and so funny. I think he told me at least a handful of jokes (as they are his specialty) before I let him finish the rest of his round, half hoping he would ask us to join him (kidding).

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Chi Chi Rodrígues and I

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The prettiest hole with the best view

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Old San Juan

We mostly relaxed during the days at the pool or beach, but there was one day that we took a shuttle to Old San Juan. On the way there our bus driver was so enthusiastic about showing us around his hometown, stopping at food trucks along the back roads near the beach, and telling us what to try. Our next stop was Old San Juan where we walked around the San Juan Old Historal Site andCastillo de El Morro, an old Spanish fort. I definitely want to bring our 10 year old here some day. He loves history and would find everything about this place fascinating.SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC

After our walking tour of Castillo de El Morro, we hit up the streets of Old San Juan. It really was the prettiest little town I have ever been in and a couple hours here just didn’t cut it. I don’t have any photos of our time spent walking Old San Juan, and I’m not sure why.  Maybe my phone or camera died, but take my word for it, it was so inviting and so relaxing, we could have spent all day exploring the old cobblestone streets Old San Juan.

Vieques Bioluminescent Bay

One of the most unique experiences we had while in Puerto Rico was kayaking out to Vieques Bioluminescent Bay. We arrived in the evening at dark and proceeded to kayak for 30 minutes through a tunnel of mangroves until we reached a clearing. The organisms in the water react when something moves through it. Every time we would paddle the water would glow. It was so magical.  We had a clear sky that night and the stars were so bright, I didn’t know whether to look down into the glowing water or up into the twinkling sky.  We would definitely do it again. It was just such a peaceful relaxing activity.

We highly enjoyed our time in Puerto Rico but feel we barely scratched the surface on what Puerto Rico has to offer. We can’t wait to go back and bring the kids next time.

So there you have it, a very brief recap of our time in Puerto Rico.  Next time we visit I’ll write a bit more of an informative post for those who haven’t been and not sure what to do or where to stay.  This was an impromptu trip that I had no input with the planning so I didn’t research much before leaving.  What are your favorite things to see and do in Puerto Rico? Favorite family friendly places to stay? We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below as we hope to take our kids back with us someday.

Also, stay in touch with us on our adventures by clicking the follow button below:) 

3 days in The Black Hills with Kids

Last summer we ventured on a little trip with friends of ours and headed to the black Hills in South Dakota.  Having never been to the Black Hills, we knew we were in good hands as our friends have been many times and were great guides to us.  Part of the fun of road tripping to the Black Hills is all the stops along the way.  You can read about all the fun places we stopped on our way out here.  When we arrived in The Black Hills it was late afternoon.  We decided to head to Mount Rushmore right off the bat.  The sun was setting and the kids were ready to get out and stretch their legs. The great thing about Mount Rushmore is that it’s easy to get to and it can be as long or as short of a visit as you want it to be.  Ours was more on the shorter side (sorry Mr. Presidents).  We made just enough time to admire and take photos of the iconic rock sculpture, watch a short clip on the history of how it all came together, and walk around a bit.  It was really all the time we needed there and then it was time for dinner.  We stopped for pizza on the way down the hill from Mount Rushmore in the little town of Keystone.  The drive to our house was about a 45 minute jont up into the hills, and with the deer coming out we didn’t want to be making that drive at dusk (which happened this night) or when it was dark.

Day 1 (or 1st afternoon):  Mount Rushmore

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For our time in the Black Hills we rented a house from VRBO in Lead, and it was in a ski resort area.  It was so quiet and peaceful up there which made the long drive to and from the main events each day worth it.  Plus, the drive was beautiful so we didn’t really mind it.

Day 2:  Crazy Horse Memorial and Custer State Park

The next morning we headed to the Crazy Horse Memorial.  Our 10 year old was really into the history of the rock sculpture of Crazy Horse and loved walking around in the museum.  We enjoyed a quick hoop dancing demonstration, and the kids loved getting up and trying their own hoop dance.  It was fun and educational.

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After Crazy Horse we ventured over to Custer State park and walked around Sylvan Lake.  We could have spent an entire day here at the lake, and now we know for next time how to best utilize our time for Sylvan Lake and Custer State Park.  We didn’t make it to the wildlife viewing part of Custer or drive through the so-called nail biting needles road, as it was getting late and we needed to head back down the windy road that leads up to Sylvan Lake to get home before dark.

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Day 3:  Cosmos and Keystone

We opted for a quirky little visit at The Cosmos Mystery Area.  Here we got a short tour of the property where they say weird things happen because of the magnetic hills and the gravitational vortexes.  Something to be experienced for yourself.  It was definitly entertaining and something different.  The kids thought it was really interesting and had a blast on this short tour.2016-07-15 10.28.19 HDR-2

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After our Cosmos experience we headed into Keystone.  We visited the popular tourist stop Rushmore Tramway Adventures.  We took the kids up the hill via a chairlift and proceeded to have lunch at the top. 2016-07-15 11.45.052016-07-15 11.50.58After lunch we headed back down the hill but this time riding the alpine slides.  My kids loved this so much.  Landry (our 3 yr old) was with me and kept saying, “Go faster mom!”  I was going pretty slow for safety precautions and even after me saying, “We’re going fast,” he wasn’t having it.  “No we’re not.  We’re going slow.”  He’s too smart for his own good. 2016-07-15 12.37.072016-07-15 12.37.352016-07-15 12.43.522016-07-15 12.44.37-2

Once at the bottom, I talked Tanner into going ziplining.  I have always wanted to zipline and they had one here.  He was a champ about it and we can now check zip lining off of our bucket lists.2016-07-15 12.58.05   After the ziplining, we all headed over the the 1800’s train.  The train ride was so relaxing and peaceful and was definitely a highlight of the trip and a must do again for all of us.2016-07-15 14.12.47Processed with VSCO with c1 presetDSC09293DSC09301DSC09323DSC09332DSC09383Visiting the Black Hills was the perfect little getaway for us.  It was a slow relaxed trip.  The kids were able to run and explore and just be kids.  For a mid July trip, the weather was perfect.  Such a memorable summer trip. We can’t wait to go again.DSC09448

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our YouTube Channel

We have a family YouTube channel!  It’s mostly a way for our family and friends that live far away to keep up with us, as I am terrible about sending pictures!  We have some fun things coming up so if you would like to keep up with these Jonesys you can clink on the link and subscribe to our channel as well.  The kids are so excited about this and are already making plans for videos to include.  Here’s our latest video.  We hope you’ll watch and subscribe.  Let us know what you think and leave us a comment 🙂

Roadtrip Stops to The Black Hills, South Dakota (Driving from Eastern Nebraska)

Now that we have visited the beautiful Black Hills in South Dakota, I cannot believe we have never been before. To have that gorgeous landscape, so different than what we are used to where we live in Nebraska so close to us is astounding. Driving to the Black Hills from Omaha is about 8- 8 ½ hour drive straight through. What makes this roadtrip fun is that there are unique places to stop along the way that breaks up the drive and makes it not seem so long. We actually made a day of it. Taking our time and exploring all the stops along the way. Since we live in Eastern Nebraska we actually drove straight north our first night.  We were lucky enough to have our first overnight night stop be at our friends’ place in Sioux Falls which is about 2 ½ hours north of us. It was a quick drive and one there it left us with about a 6 hour drive to the west side of South Dakota that we tackled the next morning.

Corn Palace:

Once on highway 90, we drove for about an hour before we stopped in Mitchell, SD. I had heard about the corn palace before but have never even seen a picture of it. Our kids were so excited to see what this so-called palace made out of corn was all about. It is definitely a must see. I won’t go into too much detail (so as not to spoil the experience), but I will say, it is really cool, and we spent a good hour there just walking in and around it.

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Al’s Oasis:

After we left the corn palace it was getting close to lunch and the kids were starting to get hungry. We had another quick hour drive up the road before making our next pit stop on the other side of the river in Oacoma, at the famous Al’s Oasis. This cute little strip mall of shops is dressed up like an old western town. Al’s Oasis had the best pie, which in my book is reason to go back again. If you have a big appetite, try their buffalo burger. Don’t forget to stop in the souvenir shop on you way out the door.

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Wall Drug:

I have to laugh when I think of Wall Drug. People would try to explain it to me but once again, it’s something that needs to be experienced. It is such a tourist trap, but again, they have a little sprinkler/water area in the back on the stores and a places for kids to run around and get all their energy out. They also have ice cream…and homemade donuts. It’s one of those places where when our kids grow up they will remember trying to pick out their souvenirs at Wall Drug. It’s really just a strip mall of souvenir shop, upon souvenir shop made out to resemble an old western town.

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I’m sure there are more hidden gem stops along the way, but these are just the ones that our family stopped at on our trip out.    It made the day relaxed and fun.  Even after driving and stopping at our slower pace, we still had time to fit in a trip to Mount Rushmore once we got to Keystone, have some pizza and call it a night.  We did hit the Badlands on the way home, but it was more of a pit stop than a visit.  We would love to go explore it more.  Have you done this road trip?  What are your family’s favorite stops/ things to do?  I’d love to hear your suggestions for the next time we head out to the Black Hills.

 

 

Our Top 5 Places to Eat at Disney World

Disclaimer: We have yet to try all the places that Disney World has to offer. That being said, we’ve tried a number of them and based on two family trips to Disney World, these were our overall favorites. These places include table service restaurants and counter service restaurants. Our favorites are not based on just price or food alone, but the overall experience as a whole.

On our first trip to Disney, we tried to make it a very budget friendly trip. We rarely ate at any table service restaurants or character meals. We ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that we made in the morning for lunch, and just tried to keep things as cheap as possible. For our second time around we were determined to try as many new restaurants as possible. We had so much fun trying all the different food options, and even after all of new tries, I still have not tried a dole whip! Here is our list of favorite places to eat at Disney World.

 

  1. Yak and Yeti (counter service): For a quick lunch while at Animal Kingdom we headed over to Yak and Yeti counter service for some Asian cuisine. Along with the Asian flare offered, they also serve hamburgers and hot dogs. Our favorite items of the menu were the egg rolls and the chicken fried rice of all things, in which our kids happily devoured.

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That’s a baby sleeping on dad

  1. ‘Ohana (The Polynesian Resort): For a change of pace we took the monorail over to the Polynesian on our last night in Disney World, to eat at their family style restaurant, ‘Ohana. Before dinner they have the kids come up and participate in a couple of games. One of them is coconut races using little brooms. My kids had so much fun doing this and it was great for them to burn some extra energy before dinner while we waited for our food to come out. We really ate ourselves silly at ‘Ohana as it is an all-you-can eat style dinner consisting of pineapple-coconut bread, meat skewers, stir-fried vegetables and their famous bread pudding for dessert. I will go back to Ohana for the bread pudding alone it is that good! There is something for everyone here and I promise nobody is going to leave hungry.

Coconut races and bread pudding!

  1. Cinderella Castle (Lunch): This one is a pretty obvious one. They could have served us cold mush for lunch and we would have loved it (just kidding). The whole experience at the castle is in our opinion worth the hefty price tag at least once. Here’s why… Before heading upstairs to the main dining area, guests get to have a meet and greet with Cinderella first and get their picture taken with her. You also get a framed photo of you with Cinderella, which is included in the overall dining price. They do a couple of special things for the kids once in the dining all, and the whole place is surrounded by beautiful stain glass windows. The food is good, but we were there for the princesses. Even our 7 year old boy at the time loved it.

  1. Biergarten (Epcot): Adults go to Biergarten for the gigantic steins of beer that you get. Kids go for the all you can eat dessert buffet and the dancing. While you are feasting on the all you can eat buffet, the live German band plays upbeat music while guests can dance along to the beat. I have to admit that when we booked our dining reservation at Biergarten is was for the experience but we quickly discovered that the food was exceptionally good. There were a lot of different options and I didn’t eat one thing that I didn’t really enjoy. We all agreed as a family that Biergarten was one of our favorites and a must do again.

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  1. Sanaa (Animal Kingdom Lodge): Ahhhh, Sanaa…When I think of Sanaa, I get all dreamy eyed and it’s probably because it was a meal experience unlike anything we have every had before. Once again, I booked this dinner based more on experience but had heard the food was amazing. We just weren’t sure what to expect once we got there.  We were greeted with a taken care of by the friendliest of staff.  We asked for a table by the window so our kids were able to get up and stand near the window where every so often the curious animals and birds would come over to say hello. We got to watch zebras, giraffes, gazelles and ostriches play outside while we munched on the most delicious naan bread platter consisting of 9 different dipping sauces.   My kids gobbled up the bread and their dinner and the plates were huge.  If you don’t have very adventurous eaters in your group, please don’t let the initial menu scare you away from not eating at Sanaa.  The whole atmosphere was so authentic and memorable as was the food. Sanaa is a must do again every time because we love it so much. It’s our new Disney dining tradition.

Naan bread platter, meeting animal friends and enjoying dinner

We can’t wait to go back to Disney World and have been planning our next trip for quite a while. In the meantime, I’d love to hear where your favorite places to eat at Disney are!  Did I persuade you to try one our our favorites?  I’d love to hear what you thought of it.

Febrile Seizure

I write this in hopes that if there ever is a next time that this situation arises my heart and my mind will be a little more prepared for the situation at hand.  And also, that maybe someone reading this will remember our situation and know what to do if it happens to their child.

 

A few days ago our 3-year old woke up with a fever.  I knew because he was just shivering and had little goosebumps all over him.  His eyes soon became glassy and watery with a steady stream of tears running down his flushed little face.  He had all the typical fever symptoms, but nothing out of the norm where I was concerned.  I tend to not get overly panicked about fevers.  Around 8am his temp was around 100.  I took it again around 10:45 and it was around 102.  That was the last time I checked it.  Our older 2 kids were home from school and since Landry was with a fever we were all just lounging around watching cartoons.  He was snuggled under a blanket shared by his sister for quite a while, and then me for a few minutes as well.   This may not have helped his rising body temperature.  I was watching him carefully to make sure his temp didn’t go up anymore.  I had not given him any Motrin yet, as I was watching the fever and seeing if it would break on its’ own.  He wasn’t complaining, just being very quiet.

Around 11:30, I got up to go to the bathroom.  I left him for 2 minutes.  I asked him if I could get up and he quietly said no, but I told him I would be right back, and got up anyway.  When my 5 year old was meeting me on my way back to tell me something was wrong with him, she didn’t even have to finish her sentence.  My mother’s intuiton felt something was wrong with him and I ran down the stairs to find him laying face up on the couch, eyes open, blank stare.  His breathing was rough making gasping sounds, I don’t even know how to explain.  He was not coherent.  He could not look at me.  He was not convulsing, and he was not stiff and rigid either.  His body was limp.  When I picked him up to try and snap him out of whatever was happening (because I was panicked), I noticed a small amount of drool on the couch under his head but not necessarily around his mouth.  His eyes rolled back and for a few seconds he stopped breathing.  At this point I decided to call 911.  After only a few seconds he did start to breathe again, but was falling asleep.  Not able to cry nor talk.  He could barely keep his eyes open even with me running outside with his half naked little body in my arms.  I didn’t know what was wrong with him and thought maybe the cold would shock him awake.  My oldest ran across the street and grabbed our sweet friend (and nurse), and she was running over as the 911 operator came on the line.  It was the operator who suggested to me that he probably had a febrile seizure.  I have known of them, but have never experienced one with either of my other kids.  I felt a sense of relief as he said those words.  I never even thought for a second that he could have had a seizure with 102 temp because I didn’t know enough about them.  I always assumed it would be with a very high fever.  If I would have known from the beginning what was going on I would have waited a few minutes more before picking him up.  I’ve seen plenty of seizures in my life to know that you roll the person on their side and wait for the seizure to pass.

When the ambulance got here the first responder assured me that it was totally normal that he was completely asleep on me and snoring, amidst me asking over and over if he was sure.  I didn’t want to see my baby’s eyes closed for one more second but once he checked his pulse and oxygen and they were perfect, I felt better about letting his exhausted little body sleep.  He explained it to me like his fever got to a point where his body basically needed to reset itself.  Those words and his calm demeanor helped put me at ease.  Landry was taken to the hospital to get checked out.  He threw up once while we were there and had a 20 min nap before they sent us home.  He took a long nap at home, ate a big dinner and danced the Whip Nae Nae before bed.  Of course I slept in his room for every nap and night for the first few days, and still can’t help to check on him 100x during the night, but that’s just how it’s going to be for me for a while.

Here are some things we learned that day about febrile seizures:

The doctors at the ER told us that as scary as febrile seizures can be for us parents, it is a good thing to come in for in the grand scheme of things, and nothing that should cause worry.  He will not have brain damage from it, and it is pretty common in babies and young kids to experience this.  Because he’s had one, he is at risk for having another one.  That doesn’t mean he will and he could very well go through life never having another one again.

It tends to happen to kids who have a family member who has had one as a child.  My mom informed me that day, that I had one when I was a baby.  I never knew that.  Good. To. Know.

It doesn’t necessarily matter how high the temperature is but also how quickly it spikes. It could happen with any fever though anytime.  I also read somewhere that the seizure can come before a fever so there’s really no way to prevent one from happening.

They told us that 1 in 20 children will experience a febrile seizure, and that 1 out of 3 of those kids will have another one.  Usually outgrow by around age 5.

Here are some websites I found if you would like more information on febrile seizures:

http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/febrile_seizures/detail_febrile_seizures.htm

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/febrile-seizure/basics/definition/con-20021016

These are the steps I would take if there were a next time for this situation.  The first one not being to remain calm because I know myself, and I don’t care who you are, when there’s something very wrong with your child, there’s a sense of urgency and panic.  Whenever Landry starts to get a fever from now on, we will administer him a fever reducer, but being fully aware that this may not prevent a seizure from still happening.

  1.  Place him on his side so he doesn’t choke on his saliva or throw up (I would have done this if the thought even crossed my mind that he was in fact having a seizure).
  2. Do NOT pick him up until the seizure has passed
  3. Time it.  Seconds seem like an eternity during these, but it’s important to time the seizure.
  4. Remove any tight clothing he may be wearing.

Febrile seizures can be scary, especially the first one.  Landry is now his normal goofy, moody self and we’re so thankful for that.  If you need information regarding febrile seizures, please contact your Pediatrician.  I am not a Dr. but a mom who wanted to share our experience with others. And thank you to all of our friends and family for your well wishes for Lan.  He’s doing great!

Here’s a pic I took about 30 minutes prior to the seizure…

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Dad just walked into the hospital room, a little shaken no doubt getting a frantic call from our 9 year old.  Sorry about that.  Landry’s not feeling well obviously.  This was a few minutes before he threw up on dad.2016-02-25 12.08.59

Getting a much need cat nap…2016-02-25 12.53.54

 

Pumpkin carving

Darlings,

This year we waited a little too long (story of my life) to set out on our quest to find the perfectly imperfect pumpkins to carve.  In past years we’ve usually stuck to painting the pumpkins to keep things less messy and little fingers away from carving knives.  This year, you really wanted to carve out faces and pictures in them.  I hesitantly agreed to it, and dad and I may have helped a little bit.  I couldn’t decide if I was a little sad or exhilarated that none of you have actually stuck your hands in the pumpkin goo.  I loved seeing your reactions to the slimy insides.

I think this is our first attempt at pumpkin seeds as well in a few years at least.  I’m not sure you enjoyed them quite as much as your dad though.  Next year we might try adding different flavors to them.  Maybe a cinnamon sugar or a spicy one just to kick it up a notch.  Here are some of my most favorite memories from our pumpkin carving madness.

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I know it’s asking too much to get you all to smile and behave for me for a picture…DSC03980

Do you remember what happened in this moment?  It’s kind of hard to tell from the photo, but if you zoom in you can see that Sam’s pumpkin exploded in her hands.  DSC03982-Edit

Next comes the fun part…

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Pumpkin carving was messy fun and you kids did such a great job on each of your pumpkins.

Christmas 2014

Even though I thought that I had a head start when I started wrapping presents as I would buy them this year, it seems we will always be up till 11pm wrapping and watching It’s A Wonderful Life.  Every Christmas Eve we watch it while we get everything ready.  It’s another of our traditions.

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The kids were so excited when they woke up on Christmas morning and couldn’t wait to run downstairs to see the loot Santa brought them.

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Landry found his roller coaster right away 🙂

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Breakfast at the cousins’ house:)

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Even with the pain and unsettling heartache on this day, we are so thankful for the blessings that we are able to hold each and every day.  This is definitely a Christmas to remember.  Some for the not so good, but mostly for the great memories.  Some day I will be ready to share, but for right now concentrating on these gems right here are what I’m focused on.  This post is a few months late in the making, but we’ve been going through some stuff, and sometimes you just gotta go through the stuff.

Hope ya’ll had a great Christmas as well!

Love,

These Jonesy’s

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