People

I have been thinking about what God is doing in my life. I’m currently in a waiting period. Waiting to move forward as an adult (because I’m finishing my degree). Waiting to become a mother. Waiting for it to get warm again ha ha. Something I haven’t had to wait for is people. God has surrounded Daniel and I with people. Being busy with school, volunteer work, and simply giving time to our marriage makes it difficult to do things like hangout with people at church, or go to a ton of social events. So, for a while we felt separated. Now, we have awesome people left and right, all around us.
My cousin Andrea has moved to Charleston. She is the only family I have down here, and it’s only been a week, but it’s been amazing.
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Brandy and Charlie (friends from CSU) help us with the most mundane things (like fixing our shed roof or putting our patio in) and make them fun.

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Femcke is my South Africa away from South Africa, reminding me of some of the best times of my life (so far).  **vriend**
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Then there are all of the people in between who fill in the empty cracks. They help make the waiting period fun. Thanks people! I hope we can be what all of you are for us. =)

Disclaimer: this is not an exclusive list. There are a lot of people who are not directly around us right now who are amazing. For our family and friends who live else where, please know you are all appreciated

❤ TZ

 

 

Music

I found an old mix CD (yes, I still listen to them)the other day and put it in the car. While I was driving my husband to work this morning, a song came on that immediately took me to a specific moment in my life. I began to think about all of the moments in my life that have been branded by a song, and realized most of the big ones have been. I thought of ten.
1. The song from the CD was “The Great Escape” by Boys Like Girls, and it was the sound of my graduation from Lake Forest High School. I could smell the grass that covered the soccer field I played on religiously. I could hear the cowbells being rung in the stadium when we all stood up to toss our caps. I could see Jenn and all of the other faces I spent everyday becoming more and more familiar with. It was fun to go back. It was random, and welcomed.
2. This one is weird, but nevertheless it’s made an imprint. “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now” by Celine Dion. Now, the actual song may not be weird, but the memory it’s attached to it is. When I was six (or so) I was lying on the bed in my mom’s room while she was getting ready for work, and the radio was on. I was hiding under the sheet, and I didn’t think she knew. She began to sing along to this song, and right before the second chorus she lifted the sheet and began singing loudly at me. I just lied there cracking up. She was a horrible singer.
3. “I Go Back” by Kenny Chesney marks the death of my mom mom (mom’s side). Dan and I were playing catch in a field with a football right after I heard she had passed. This song came on the radio and I cried quietly as we continued to play.
4. To piggy back on the last one, “Hear You Me” by Jimmy Eat World is imprinted in my heart as the song of my mom’s death. It’s not the most dynamic song, but that’s the one. It’s a song that haunts me.
5. “Candy” by Robbie Williams is one of my favorites. It takes me back to the first time Daniel and I ventured out on the African road in our new Mahindra Scorpio. It came on the radio while we were driving to Greytown. Sage was in the back with her head hanging out of the window. The road was dry, so there was dust everywhere. The heat was thick, and our AC didn’t work, so we were hot and covered in dust. It was perfect.
6. This one isn’t really one that I come into contact with regularly, and it’s not a song per say. It’s the call to prayer in Doha, Qatar. Daniel and I visited as we were moving back from South Africa and when it played I was immediately taken back to Daniel’s childhood home. I could smell the flowers in Judy’s garden. I could feel the warm air blowing in through the window. It was a nice sound to wake up to.
7. “Wonderwall” covered by Paul Anka. The Eastern University swing dance club played this song at every meeting. It was the first song Daniel and I danced to. We were so bad. I got dizzy when he spun me. He wore slippers to the first lesson. We were hopeless. This song makes my heart so happy.
8. “Fix You” by Coldplay. Daniel and I were waiting for the train one night after I met his brother Jon for the first time. We were bored and the train was taking forever. This was back when smart phones weren’t popular. Daniel had maybe five songs on his phone, one of them being “Fix You”. So  he played it and we just sat quietly, listening to Chris Martin move us nearly to tears, because that song is so beautiful. It was the first time I had heard it. Now when it plays, I’m back in downtown Philly with the love of my life, and we’re 18.
9. “Bitter Sweet Symphony”  by the Verve. This one-hit wonder was the song my cousin Becca would play every time we took a late night drive on the back roads in Delaware. It puts wind in my hair. It ushers in the fragrance of Lovespell, McDonald’s fries, and miscellaneous car air fresheners.  It makes me feel like driving, for no reason.
10. “The Gambler” by Fun. Daniel doesn’t pay too much attention to lyrics. He pays more attention to the actual music of a song. So, he was never the guy to say “this song reminds me of you”. One day after I got home from work however, we were talking on the phone (we were still dating at the time), and he said “I found more music by Fun. and one of the songs reminds me of us. You should listen to it”. I was swooned. This one takes me back to the floor of my room in that tiny farm house, where I talked to Daniel every night while we were dating. It takes me back to daydreaming about my future with a wonderful man. It’s the song we danced to in the kitchen of Aunt Debbie and Uncle Bill’s beach house while we were on our honeymoon.  It makes me feel young, old, and loved all at once.

If time traveling is possible, it’s through music.

Thanks for reading =) If you have a song attached to a memory, please feel free to tell me in a comment.

❤ TZ

 

Being Content

As I sat in my Social Problems class this morning I realized I have something a lot of people don’t have: contentment. It’s not meant to be a brag or something to cause tension, but I feel very compelled to get this thought out of my head. My professor was elaborating on the fact that so many people are unsatisfied with their jobs, their house, even their life. He continued by saying that this dissatisfaction has been worsening over the last couple of decades, and we talked about what things cause it. Now, I understand that some people are going through horrible things across the globe, and this is not directed at those truly struggling, but I think that some of this dissatisfaction can be minimized with a change of thought process. People have this lack of contentment because they put unrealistic expectations on life, want things that will not bring them happiness, and choose to dwell in the idea that the future will be better, but don’t do anything to improve the present.

Expectations are dangerous. Life changes and is unpredictable. While I think it is okay to have standards, I think being aware of this unpredictability can help us create a light-footedness in life. In doing this, it allows us to not only spring back from unfortunate evens, but can help us to even find joy during these times.

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Things of this world leave us only wanting more. So then, it is safe to say they will not bring us true joy or satisfaction. Wanting things promotes greed and unrest and is birthed by social expectations. I have felt the pressure of society in different facets, and admittedly the pressure is quite intense. It can sway our decisions to live a certain way, dress a certain way, eat a certain way, and even talk a certain way. When we allow the world to influence us in these ways it will lead to us using things as a crutch to support this lifestyle. Suddenly your house is a status symbol. Your clothes and make up are a distraction. Your money makes you feel secure. Honestly, it’s all rubbish.

A lot of people live with the “one day” mindset. You know, “one day we’ll have enough money to buy the things we want” or “one day I’ll have a job that makes me happy” or “one day I’ll have enough time to do the things I want”, but right now you have the power to decide that where you are is not only good enough, but great. Constantly striving for the next thing that will improve your life leaves you neglecting the “here and now”. You will miss everything if you only live with the “one day” mindset.

John 10:10 says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  If you are struggling with being content, remember that Jesus came so that we may have LIFE. That truth in and of itself is enough. We can be content knowing that this life is a gift.

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I know most of this was rambling, but maybe you can get a morsel of truth out of it. If not, thanks for reading my nonsense.

❤ TZ

My Top 10 Favorite Places to Run

For those of you who enjoy running (probably not many of you) here is a list of places I have put my stamp of approval on.

10.) Tyler State Park, Newtown, PA. It is mostly wooded with some field scenery and water features. There are usually white-tailed deer just off the path too.
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9.) Brandywine Creek State Park, Brandywine, DE.  This one is beautiful. Mostly wooded as well, but the views in the meadows are AMAZING. There are also a few challenging hills.
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8.) Wissahickon Park, Philadelphia, PA. Wooded, again. The trail follows a river for 7 miles. Along the river there are fun features like a small waterfall that has a huge rock at the bottom (people like to jump off of it for fun), an iron bridge over a gorge, foundations of old buildings, and a small cafe to grab a coffee or meal after the run. This park merges with Fairmount Park which will take you all the way into downtown Philly.
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7.) Ravenel Bridge, Charleston, SC. So this one is a little different because it’s just a bridge. What this run has going for it: great hillage, spectacular views (run right before sunset so you can see the sun setting from the top), the novelty factor. If you do the bridge it is 2.5 miles one way. I usually go to one side and then back. If you do this during the summer bring sunscreen and try to do it in the morning or evening when the sun is lower in the sky.
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6.)  Giant’s Castle, Drakensberg in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa. I know this one is kind of far away, but honestly people if the location wasn’t a factor it may be my number one. The wildlife is amazing. The views are breath taking. The best part is, you feel far away from everything in the world. It is still 100% nature. Most of the time you have to make your own trail. My heart aches to go back here. giants-castle

5.) Gorges State Park, Sapphire, NC. So much fun! It’s wooded trails again, but there are some awesome waterfalls to distract you from the incline of the trails. If you get too warm, jump in the water. There are usually other people swimming so you won’t be the only one. This is a great summer run if you want a challenge.
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4.) Downtown Charleston, SC. This may not be for you if you don’t like small streets or navigating through potential crowds. If you can look past these things it’s a great run. And if you want to get really crazy you can tack on the bridge (see 7) at the beginning or end of this run. This run has fun sights and zero incline which makes it fast-paced . It’s a “feel good about yourself” kinda run.
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3.) Downtown Annapolis, MD. This may not seem awesome, but the downtown area is quite fun. There is also some incline here and there (yay hills!). It’s historic. It’s by the water. It has great places to eat, post run.
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2.) Downtown, Singapore. So despite the fact that it’s on the other side of the world, this place is hands down one of the BEST places to run. The city is clean. The waterfront area is gorgeous. You can sight see while you run. And if you run at night the lights around the city are pretty great. Plus, they have a statue called the “Merlion” (half fish, half lion). Enough said.
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1.) Table Rock State Park, Pickens, SC. This one has all the things. It has the epic factor. It has the challenge factor. It has extreme inclines, water features, boulders (“that’s a nice boulder”), amazing views at the top, shade (for summer runs), and a lake at the bottom to swim in once you finish. There are short trails, but if you want a challenge and a reward you should do the Pinnacle Mountain Trail (4.2) or Table Rock Trail (3.6 mi). WARNING: these trails are very strenuous. If you have not run consistently beforehand do not attempt to run these. Even runners who have run plenty to prepare have been injured tying to run these trails. Prepare yourself.

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Honorable Mentions:
* Killen’s Pond State Park, Felton, DE. My home cross country course (it’s sentimental and    quaint).
* Bobbio Pellice, Italy. It’s super beautiful, but I wasn’t really into running at the time, so I    don’t feel like I can accurately rate it now. I think it would probably make the list if I tried    it again.
* Pagosa Springs, CO. Really pretty, but I only did a 2 mile loop here, so my experience            with it is limited.

Happy Running!
❤ TZ

2017

So far 2017 has been very successful. School is going well, I haven’t had soda since before Christmas, I ran the Charleston Half Marathon in 1:47:00 (2 mins off from my goal, 1:45:00), God is doing fun things in our life, and I have been doing yoga everyday.

Here are 10 things I would like to accomplish in the year to come…
1. Complete a half marathon in 1:30:00 or better
2. Improve some of my yoga poses
3. Cut down the dead tree in our backyard
4. Finish Walden by Henry David Thoreau
5. Eat out only once a week (maximum)
6. Spend 30 mins a day in silence with God
7. Finish garden beds around patio
8.  Start learning Arabic
9. Downsize my wardrobe
10. Go on a vacation with Daniel

So here’s to 2017, may it be a great year!
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❤ TZ

Traveling, Christmas, New Years, and All the Randomness in Between

So the holidays wound up being more hectic than I anticipated, so I was unable to blog while we were in DE and NJ. So here is a reflection on the events that took place.

Time spent at my dad’s house was better than the previous years because HE QUIT SMOKING!  I swear my dad continues to amaze me throughout life. Him and Lori (my step mom) took us antiquing, and to Rice (a sushi restaurant). They were also flawless in their execution as hosts, never ceasing to open their home to us. Thank you Lori and Dad. =)

The Christmas Eve party was a hit. It always is. I love seeing everyone in one place celebrating not only Christmas, but my uncle Scott’s birthday. My cousin Jessica was there and we got to meet her boyfriend Mike. They recently bought their first home so congrats to them!
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Jess and Mike. They’re cute
Christmas day was split up between Delaware and New Jersey. The drive to Cape May is always enjoyable. While we were with Daniel’s side of the family we saw His two siblings (Jon and Josh) and their wives (Kristen and Amy) along with our niece, Avery. Throughout the week grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins also came and went. We played an abundance of Hand and Foot and corn hole, ate great food, walked to the beach numerous times, and enjoyed stories told by everyone. Overall, it was very successful.

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That time Karl and I won in Hand and Foot

We also got to see Jenn, Sean, Lincoln, and baby Connor.

 

The most moving part of the trip was being able to see my cousin, Becca. Her story is incredible, but still sensitive so I won’t share it. It is still just hers to share. But I have faith in her, and was truly excited and thankful to be able to see her. We haven’t seen each other in four and a half years, but it was like we had never parted. I love her.

We then moved to Downingtown, PA where we saw Mark (Daniel’s room mate from Eastern) and his wife Angelica. They are simply, AWESOME. We went for a 4-5 mile walk, played a short-lived game of Code Names, and spent time at Angelica’s family’s house. Fun!

Bests and Worsts of the trip

Best meal: Sushi with my dad and Lori in Dover, DE

Worst commute: From New Jersey to Northern, De. Traffic everywhere, bridge/turnpike tolls, and drivers that insisted on flashing you even when you are going faster than the speed limit.

Best bed we slept in: My aunt and uncle’s bed in Middletown, DE. Seriously, the most comfortable mattress I have ever experienced.

Worst round of Hand and Foot: Karl and I were on the same team, and one round I had THREE red 3’s in my foot. Oops.

Best car game: coming up with the most useless super hero powers with my cousin Andrea. I especially love the power of being able to “make you look”.

Best conversation: A group conversation between myself, Daniel, a couple who is friends with my aunt and uncle, my dad, and other misc. people. Topic: Overseas Adoption. It was insightful, moving, and comforting.

The holidays were once again, wonderful. Thank you to everyone who made themselves available, welcomed us into their homes, fed us, and put up with our crazy pups. You are all awesome!

❤ TZ

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Itinerary

Tis the season to travel to Delaware and New Jersey. Tonight Daniel an I will pack the car with duffle bags, gifts, snacks, dogs, and all of the other nonsense that makes it’s way into our blue hatchback. I am going to attempt to blog every couple of days while we are up there since we usually have a lot of downtime, but we will see how things actually play out. So here is our proposed, completely flexible, itinerary for the upcoming adventure.

Day one (Friday 12/23): Morning departure from North Charleston. 9-10 hour car ride full of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone audio book, NPR, mix CDs (yes CDs), nonsense conversations, and singing. Arrive in Dover, Delaware in the evening.
Day two (Saturday 12/24): Breakfast at Jenn’s house with her family in the morning. On an unrelated note, her second son was born on Monday, so we will get to meet Conner Joel Grove. Hangout with my dad and Lori until the family Christmas Eve party where I will initiate the riveting game of mouth Jenga (pictures will be taken).
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Day three (Sunday 12/25): Wake up at my dad’s house, have breakfast and open gifts. Go to Grandparent’s house for lunch and then head to Cape May, NJ. Dinner and gifts in Cape May.
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Day four (Mon 12/26): Cape May, NJ. No distinct plans for this day.
Day five (Tues 12/27): Cape May, NJ. No plans again.
Day six (Wed 12/28): Cape May, NJ. Possible departure.
Day seven (Thurs 12/29): Cape May, NJ if we don’t depart on Wed. Then definite departure today. See my aunt and uncle (mom’s side) in Hockessin, DE. Spend the night in Middletown, DE at my aunt and uncle’s house. They have 11 acres so the dogs can run around. The house is also huge which I think will be fun to play hide and seek in.
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Day eight (Fri 12/30): We are going to go antiquing with my Dad and Lori. We will also be spending the night at the Middletown house again.
Day nine (Sat 12/31): We have no new years plan, but I think we will try to see some friends today near Wissahickson Park, PA (Northern Philly)
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Day ten (Sun 1/1): No plans. Maybe go to Jenn’s house again.
Day eleven (Mon 1/2): Most likely depart from Delaware and head back to Charleston.

I probably won’t start writing again until the day after Christmas, so until then….

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❤ TZ

Two Halves of a Whole

My parents are Edward Lang and Jeanne Stewartdsc_0413
My mom Passed away, but I would like to say a bit about her. She was loud. She liked to sing in the car, and if you didn’t sing along with her she would poke you until you did. Or at least that was my experience. She was a paralegal, and I swear she could type so fast that the keys weren’t able to keep up. I remember going to work with her when I was younger. I would sit under her desk and listen to the radio (93.7 WSTW) and pretend the noises from the key board were people dancing. We moved around a lot trying to find “home”. Trying to find “peace”. Whether she found those things, I’m not sure. But in the process of it all we found each other. I learned things about her most kids don’t know about their mothers. Maybe some things they shouldn’t know. Nevertheless, I learned them. I learned her. I understood her. I loved HER, the real her, even if it was broken.
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My dad is still living. He is one of the strongest people I have ever met. He is also one of the most stubborn (I definitely get it from him). He works hard. He is smart, funny, and loves more than anyone I know. This picture is from a father/daughter dinner dance we went to with my girl scout troop in 97 or 98. I was a pretty shy child, but I remember my dad helping me dance the macarena and the electric slide that night. I now LOVE to dance. Thanks dad. I wouldn’t say he was always the first to the dance floor or a “social butterfly”, but he always stepped up when in mattered.
They were very different people, but they made me. I am here because of them. Christmas makes me a bit nostalgic, so I wanted to write a quick entry about the two halves that made the sum of me.
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I was talking to a homeless man named William yesterday in downtown Charleston, and he asked me about my parents. I told him about my mom and dad. He asked about my mom. He asked about why my parents got divorced. I told him, and asked him about his parents. He told me he never knew his parents. He grew up in the foster system, and was always in and out of group homes. He said “you are very lucky to have known the people who created you”. And that struck me pretty hard. I didn’t have the most “cushy” childhood. In fact, there were a lot of hardships. But the one thing I never went without was my parents. They were there. Regardless of what was going on they were there if they were able to be. So for the time I had both of them I am extremely thankful. I understand who I am because I was able to get to know where I came from.
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Here’s to my parents. For giving me everything they have. For teaching me everything they know. For making tents in the living room. For driving me to soccer practice. For loving me in any capacity they knew how to love.

❤ TZ

Life Without A TV

Most people who know Daniel and I know that we don’t own a TV. It’s not because we have some deep religious vendetta against TVs. We just don’t have one.
When we first got married we had my brother-in-law’s TV, but gave it back to him right before we left for South Africa. While we were over there we realized we didn’t need one to live the life we were seeking to live.
So, when we moved back to the states we decided we were not going to purchase a TV. People often ask things like “What do you do if you don’t watch TV?” or “What happens if you get bored?” which I will address now (in list form, because lists are great).

Here are ten things we do instead of watching TV:
1.) We sing/play guitar. This is not only super fun, it’s a great crowd pleaser when you can play an acoustic version of “Uptown Funk”.

2.) Play board games. Settlers of Catan, Seven Wonders, Scrabble, Hanabi, and Dixit are some of our “go to” games.

3.) We get crafty. This year instead of buying a garland for the mantle (which I really wanted for some reason) I simply learned how make paper snowflakes and strung them up with red ribbon. It looks dope. Daniel is big into woodworking, so he is making a Settlers of Catan board out of wood.

4.) Exercise. This one is probably our favorite. Yoga is a good one to do at night. We are also fans of P90X, Insanity, T25 (for a quick workout), and making up ridiculous workouts (do not take working out too seriously, it gets boring).

5.)  Teach our dogs fun tricks. They know the “bang” trick, roll over, sit pretty, high five, shake, stand (on their hind feet), they can weave in between our legs as we walk, they can play hide and seek, they can jump on our backs, and the list goes on. It’s fun, and is also a crowd pleaser.

6.) We read. This is a newer one for me because I was never a great reader, but I have been forcing myself to do it more, and I am starting to enjoy it. Right now I am deep into a book called “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” by Donald Miller, and Daniel is finishing up “Bear and Circus” by Murray Sperber.

7.) Cook healthy dinners. This may seem like an obvious one given that we HAVE to eat every night or go hungry. However, the way we make it challenging is trying to find new recipes to help us eat healthier without sacrificing taste and variety. Daniel’s red curry is near perfection, and I think I have mastered mango salsa when we make fish tacos.

8.) Talk to family/friends (who are far away) via Facetime.

9.) Yard work. This one is usually during daylight savings time.

10.) Talk to each other. This is the best thing we do every night. Talking to one another seems so simple, but it is often something people neglect to do. We take a chunk of time every night to sit on the couch and just talk about our day, how much we appreciate each other, and vent.

While this list is not exclusive, it does paint a fairly accurate picture of what we invest our time in. Hopefully this gives you ideas to pursue during the day/after work. As Donald Miller says “We have to get up off the couch and turn the television off, we have to blow up the inner-tubes and head to the river”.
Do something, anything.

❤ TZ

Picturesque

Finals are upon us this week at Charleston Southern University. We are stressed and stretched. Here are a few pictures I’ve taken throughout the years. Hopefully they help to calm you down, make you happy, or remind you of the beauty surrounding us.

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Ukraine
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Chanticleer Garden, Wayne, PA
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Soy Beans, Felton, DEdsc_0174
Singapore
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Charleston with Tristan
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Hawker Center, Singapore
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In Front of the Raffles Hotel, Singapore
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Pulau Ubin, Singapore
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He could make the wild pigs do tricks, and he was so happy

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Valley Forge National Park, PA
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Bobbio Pellice, Italy
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That time Heather Mitts took a selfie with me
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Rehoboth, DE
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Joy
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Middleton Place, Charleston, SC
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That time a goat took a selfie with me

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Blacksmith Jamal Hall, Middleton Place (A Delawarean!)
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Indigo
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Just for fun =)

We can do this! Happy Finals =)

 

❤ TZ