7 Reasons Why You Should Say “Yes” To Studying Abroad

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As many of you may know, I studied abroad in 2015 at Regent’s University in London, England. You can find all of my study abroad posts here if you’re interested. Studying abroad was one of the most terrifying, exhilarating, and life-changing experiences and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I flew home from Heathrow.

I knew I wanted to study abroad in London after traveling there with band the summer before my senior year of high school. I fell in love with the culture, history, and architecture and could already picture myself strolling around London solo. My love for London was strong and four years later my dream came true when I got accepted to Regent’s University’s study abroad program.

If you are contemplating study abroad I have one main piece of advice for you: GO! It’s scary and you’ll miss home but this is a once in a lifetime experience to fully immerse yourself in a new culture and way of life.

Here are seven more reasons you should study abroad in college:

  1. Studying abroad will look great on your resume! Employers are looking for things that set candidates apart. Study abroad will give you a global perspective that not everyone will have. Plus, it shows that you are willing to go outside of your comfort zone and try something new.
  2. You’ll meet friends from all over the world. The friends I met in London continue to be some of my best friends today. I was able to meet people from all over the world including Russia, Germany, Switzerland, Peru, Argentina, Colombia, and many many more. I learned about their cultures, languages, and customs. I was the only American in my classes which was a really awesome experience!
  3. You can travel to some really cool places. This is especially true if you study abroad in Europe because it’s really inexpensive to travel between European countries. You can plan quick weekend getaways or week long adventures during school breaks. Depending on where you study abroad you may even be able to join school sponsored trips. My university offered trips to Paris, Scotland, Stonehenge, and many others.
  4. You won’t be the same after. Study abroad is guaranteed to change your life in some way. You will have new friends, new memories, and new experiences that will shape you for the rest of your life.
  5. Studying abroad makes you grateful for the life you have. I loved my study abroad experience but coming home made me appreciate all of the little things even more. I missed my parents, my sister, and Brett while I was gone but being away from them made me appreciate them so much more. I also appreciated all of sacrifices my family made in order to help me study abroad.
  6. You’ll gain real life experiences. I had so many opportunities in London that I never would have had at home. I participated in a global business conference where I had to present in front of a large group of my peers and business men and women from all over the world. Experiences like this prepared me for the “real” world after graduation and made me confident in my abilities.
  7. You’ll become more independent. There will be times when you wish your mom or dad could be around to help you but they are hundreds of miles away. At the time it’ll feel awful but it will allow you to problem solve on your own. You will have to grocery shop, do your own laundry, and plan trips by yourself or with your new friends. You will come home with a new sense of independence and be ready for whatever life throws your way next.

I know that studying abroad can be scary. It’s hard to leave your home university, your family, and your friends. But putting yourself out there is so important. I almost talked myself out of going hundreds of times but I am super happy that I took a leap of faith and went.

Let me know if you have any questions about studying abroad. I documented the whole process from applying, getting accepted, packing, and my adventures abroad if you need any inspiration for why you should go.

I can’t wait to hear about your adventures!

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Our Ultimate Rome Travel Guide

The Ultimate Rome Travel Guide

Brett and I went on a bucketlist trip to Rome in October. I had been dreaming of this trip since I first saw the Lizzie McGuire Movie and it felt like a dream to be able to go with my husband. We started off our trip in Paris which you can read about here. I love visiting Europe because everywhere you go you are surrounded by so much history.

Since we ended up spending a day in Paris our time in Rome was shortened. I had read a ton of travel blogs and books before our trip so I knew that three days in Rome to do touristy things should be plenty.

Rome Travel Guide, 3 days in Rome

We ended up buying the OMNIA Vatican and Rome Pass which allowed us into the tourist places for free. We were also able to take a hop on hop off bus around the city as many times as we want. Rome has a great transportation system but we preferred to take the bus because we could sit on the top deck and see many of the sites from there.

Three Days in Rome

On our first full day we picked up our OMNIA Pass and hopped on the bus. We took one full lap around the city to see everything. I think the whole loop took about an hour which we didn’t mind because we were so jet lagged.

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We eventually got off the bus near the Pantheon and had gelato at a cute cafe that we had found while on the bus. We then walked to the Pantheon which was pretty packed. The Pantheon is a former Roman Temple that was built in 113-125 AD. It is known for the huge pillars that stand out front and the dome in the center. It is one of the best preserved ancient Roman sites. Brett and I walked around inside the Pantheon for a while just looking at everything.

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One thing to watch for when you are visiting Rome is the pickpockets. They are all over the place and like to try to engage you in conversation or will throw you an item like a bracelet and try to get you to pay for it. I knew that pickpockets would be bad in Rome so I invested in this bag from Amazon that if RFID blocking and has little clasps on all the zippers that make it harder to break into. The crowded streets around the Pantheon were packed with pickpockets.

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After the Pantheon we walked to Trevi Fountain which was PACKED! I would recommend trying to visit either early in the morning or later at night if you are hoping to get a good picture. We decided we would just come back later to get close to the fountain.

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We were pretty exhausted by this point and I was pretty sure I was catching a cold so we headed back to a restaurant near our hotel for pizza. We went to the same restaurant the night before and Brett had a 5 course Italian meal including tripe. He was so full!

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The next morning we got up bright and early and walked to the Colosseum. Our OMNIA Passes covered our entry but we did pay extra to have a guided tour. One of the best things about the OMNIA Pass was that we were able to skip the line and enter right away. The line that day wrapped around the Colosseum and the wait was already up to four hours by the time we arrived!

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Our tour guide was great! We had headphones so that we could hear what he was saying while we walked around. I don’t think it would have been as great if we wouldn’t have had the guide. After our guided tour was done we had the option to keep walking around and exploring. A tour for the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill was leaving in about 30 minutes so we decided to hang around for a bit and then join that group.

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The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill ended up being my favorite places we went in Rome. Every tour of the Colosseum also comes with a pass to go to the Roman Forum but apparently very few people actually go. I have no idea why because it’s full of history and breathtaking views of the Colosseum and ancient Rome.

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The Roman Forum is basically the center of ancient Rome where you can see the ruins of government buildings, temples, houses, and tombs. You can go down on the streets where Romans used to walk and can kind of picture how life in ancient Rome was. I can vividly remember talking about the Roman Forum in a college history class so it was amazing to see it in real life!

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This was my favorite day in Rome even thought I was super sick by this point. I really just wanted to crawl into bed but being in Rome was a once in a lifetime opportunity so I tried to forget about my sickness and keep plugging. After our visit at the Roman Forum we had amazing pasta for a late lunch and then walked back to our hotel for a pre-dinner nap. We ended up having dinner at a cute pizza place near our hotel.

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The next day Brett told me to go back to sleep after breakfast because I really wasn’t feeling well. I slept in until noon and then we headed out for a busy day! We first went back to Trevi Fountain and made our way to the front. I had dreamed of visiting Rome for so long and standing by the fountain’s edge made it finally feel real.

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We then made our way to the Spanish Steps but it was so busy that we weren’t able to walk up them. We probably could have but I didn’t feel like fighting the crowd. They were really beautiful though!

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The most exciting part of our day was the after hours Vatican tour that we had booked through our OMNIA Pass. We took the Metro to the Vatican but ended up getting off at the wrong stop and having to walk really far to get to St. Peter’s Basilica. We were so grateful to have the OMNIA Pass by this point because we were able to skip the crazy long line and head right into the Basilica.

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St. Peter’s was breathtaking the say the least. Brett and I love to visit places of worship on our trips but this one takes the cake! I would 110% recommend booking a tour so you don’t have to wait in the hours long lines to get in. We walked around for a couple of hours and emerged ourselves in the history and elaborate artwork.

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We had an after hours tour of the Vatican Museum booked for 7 pm so we ate dinner near the square. I was so excited to go to the Museum that I barely paid attention to my pasta and gelato. We met our tour group near St. Peter’s and all walked our to the Museum together.

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Touring the Vatican Museum at night was so peaceful. There were many other tour groups there but no one had to wait in line and it was very relaxed. We signed up for this tour when we picked up our OMNIA Pass on day one.

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I still can’t believe that I saw the Sistine Chapel in person. It doesn’t even feel real! You are not allowed to take pictures but I can still picture the room in my head. It was so much bigger than I thought it would be!

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The rest of the Museum was full of amazing works of art. My favorite was this hallway of old maps. Each room that we walked through had high ceilings with detailed paintings and tons of gold.

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We went back to our hotel that night and packed for our trip home in the next morning. I couldn’t believe that our time in Rome was coming to an end!

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Our trip back to Michigan didn’t go exactly as planned. Brett works for an airline so we fly for basically free but are never guaranteed a flight. We spent most of the day trying to get on an airplane with no luck. Eventually we found a flight to Boston and ended up running through the airport and boarding just in time! It was truly a miracle. However, once we got to Boston to spend the night we realized that Red Sox game was that night and hotels were crazy expensive. It was fine though and we ended up flying back to Michigan the next morning.

This trip to Paris and Rome was such a crazy adventure. When Brett and I got married he put in his vows that we would have a lifetime of adventures together and he was right. I can’t imagine going through life without him by my side. I can’t wait to tell our kids about this trip one day!

Have you ever been to Rome? What’s the #1 destination on your travel bucketlist?

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House Updates – Year One

Buying Your First House, We bought our first house

In March we celebrated one year in our house. We went from renting a two bedroom apartment to owning a three bedroom 1941 cape cod in the cutest neighborhood. You can read the full post about buying our home here but to summarize it was love at first sight. Brett and I walked in and knew right away that this house was meant for us. One year later and we still feel that way and are so grateful to live here.

Over the past year we have made a couple of updates to the house and plan on making a few more in the near future. The first thing that needed updated was the garage. We have a detached one car garage with a carport. When we moved in the garage door was original to the garage but someone had added an electronic opener at some point. The garage door was too heavy though so it snapped the springs and was unable to open with the electric opener. I wish I would have taken a picture with the old garage door but you can see the new one below.

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Part of the reason we wanted to buy a house was so that I could park in a garage in the winter. In order to make this dream a reality we bought a new garage door and opener. My dad and uncle graciously installed both which was no easy task.

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Before I could park in the garage a workbench needed to be removed to make room for my car. My dad had the idea to turn the old workbench into an outdoor bar! He cut the bench to make it hit at the end of the carport and added a small patio for chairs. For my birthday my dad built four bar stools. We bought outdoor lights and hung up metal signs that we collected on the side of the garage. Now the carport is a cool hang out area and bar for when we have friends and family over.

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There was a concrete slab at the end of our garage where a shed used to stand. My dad designed and built another shed to fit on the slab with a door into our garage. The shed is used to store our lawn mowers and other outdoor necessities. He built shelves on the inside and an area for firewood and chairs to be stored on the outside. He also re-roofed the garage while building the shed.

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We made a small minor updates inside the house but nothing major yet. The main things we hope to accomplish in the next couple of years are building a second bathroom, re-doing our driveway, and replacing the kitchen floor. The interior of the house was recently re-painted and we love the colors so that makes things easy for us!

A big shout out to my dad for making all of these things happen! I have a vision and he always creates a plan and gets things done!

Overall, we are so happy with our purchase and look forward to many more years here!

Have you been working on any house projects lately?

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Five on Friday #9

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Congratulations! You made it to Friday!

It’s been an interesting week. I was really sick last weekend with a nasty cold and it’s hung around pretty much all week. I feel better but still not 100% like myself.

  1. A quick migraine update for those who have followed my journey so far. Things haven’t been great. I’ve head a few more migraines than normal and they are really intense and painful. My neurologist will be upping my medication dosage next month so I’m hoping that will help. For now I’m just taking things day by day.
  2. I’m going to my cousin’s baby shower on Saturday with my mom and grandma. She announced her pregnancy on Christmas and we are very excited to celebrate the baby’s upcoming arrival as a family.
  3. On Sunday we are celebrating Mother’s Day at my grandparent’s house. It’ll be nice to have two family days in a row this weekend! Are you celebrating Mother’s Day this weekend?
  4. I’ve been reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell on the Kindle app and I love it so far! I’ve read a lot of mixed reviews on it so I put off reading it because I thought I wouldn’t like it. But so far so good. Have you read any good books lately?
  5. I have been feeling really boring lately. Brett has so many things he’s interested in but I feel like my interests are only work, my dog, and blogging. I want to find something else that I’m passionate about.

Do you have any big plans this weekend?

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Photo by Nicole Honeywill on Unsplash

An Open Letter to College Graduates

An Open Letter to College Graduates

Dear College Graduate,

First of all, congratulations on your graduation! You made it and all of your hard work is about to pay off! You have been preparing for this for the last few years and you are ready to take on anything life throws your way. But before you go and change the world there are a few things I’d like to say.

I can clearly remember the panic that set in three years ago when I walked across the stage and shook hands with my University’s president at my graduation. I had this fancy degree but had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I felt unprepared, overwhelmed, and lost. I had set all of these unrealistic goals for myself to get a job before I graduated and make something of myself.

If you just graduated and feel the same way, this letter is for you.

If you just graduated and think you have it all figured out, this letter is also for you.

College prepares you for a lot of things. Group presentations, business casual dress, and your elevator pitch, just to name a few. But the real world can be a little different. You can graduate with honors and lose the job to someone who didn’t graduate with honors. You can have all the internship and volunteer experience and still lose the job to someone with none. You can land your dream job only to realize it isn’t actually what you want to do with the rest of your life.

These years after graduation are to find yourself and to find what you want to do with your life. Let me tell you right now that you will fail. You will have moments where you question everything about yourself. You will feel lost, scared, and overwhelmed. It’s all okay. You will be okay.

It’s important to remember that there’s no “right” thing to do after graduating from college. It’s not necessarily “right” for you to go right to grad school or find your dream job after one interview. It’s not a race to have your life all figured out before your classmate does. Take your time and truly try to figure out what is “right” for you.

One big thing I realized quickly after graduation was that my life was not going to turn out exactly the way I wanted it to. I decided not to pursue my MBA which was a heartbreaking decision at the time. I also took a job in finance after dreaming about being a marketing executive in a big city for most of my life. These two changes really changed my life path.

My definition of success changed during this period of my life. I stopped defining success in the traditional terms of having a ton of money and being a the top of the corporate ladder. Now I define success as making an impact in my everyday role and providing leadership and guidance to those around me who need it. I work hard and enjoy what I’m doing and that’s success to me.

My biggest piece of advice is to go ahead and fill out that job application that you are looking at. Apply for the job that seems out of league or the one that you aren’t sure about. Do your research, ask questions, go to interviews, and get yourself out there. You never know what job will end up being your dream job! You will never get a job if you never fill out a job application.

Most of all, don’t make your life choices based on what others are telling you to do. It’s not about what your parents want you to do, or what your friends are doing, or what you thought you wanted to do four years ago. Do what feels right now.

Accept that you will feel overwhelmed and scared at times. You won’t always have all the right answers and it might be uncomfortable. Great things take time so don’t expect life to be perfect overnight.

So go and start dreaming. Take a leap of faith and apply for that job you’ve been thinking about. Accept that you will make mistakes and fall down a few times. Know that you will pick yourself back up and figure it out. Success comes in many shapes and sizes. It’s your turn to figure out what success means to you.

Best of luck to you on your journey.

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Photo by Vasily Koloda on Unsplash

 

 

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro book review

One of my favorite Youtubers, Abigail’s Cup of Tea, recommended the Charlotte Holmes series awhile back and I added it to by TBR list. Abigail is a huge Harry Potter fan and an avid book lover and we usually have the same taste in books. A Study In Charlotte is currently free on Kindle so I downloaded it and got to reading!

Summary:

Jamie Watson has always been intrigued by Charlotte Holmes; after all, their great-great-great-grandfathers are one of the most infamous pairs in history. But the Holmes family has always been odd, and Charlotte is no exception. She’s inherited Sherlock’s volatility and some of his vices—and when Jamie and Charlotte end up at the same Connecticut boarding school, Charlotte makes it clear she’s not looking for friends.

But when a student they both have a history with dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

Review:

I lived off of Baker Street when I studied abroad in London so the Sherlock Holmes series is associated with a really happy time in my life. As soon as I heard about this book I knew that I had to read it not only for the Baker Street reference but also because it sounded like a really unique twist on the original idea of Holmes and Watson.

First of all, I loved the gender swap with Charlotte Holmes playing the strong, unemotional, and intelligent female lead. Jamie Watson was just as devoted to Charlotte as the original Watson was to the original Holmes. I also liked that they moved the characters from England to America. You still get all of the British lingo and culture with the American culture thrown in as well.

When a fellow student ends up being murdered this duo has to pair together to solve the mystery. Details from the Sherlock Holmes books are brought in to try and frame Charlotte and Jamie for the murders. It’s suspenseful and entertaining.

Favorite Quotes:

“Four girls went by here last night in a group, She said finally getting to her feet. You can tell by the stampede of ugg boots.”

“You think you’re defending my ‘honor,’ but you’re just as bad as he is.”

“The two of us, we’re the best kind of disaster. Apples and oranges. Well, more like apples and machetes.”

“I began wondering if there was some kind of Watsonian guide for the care and keeping of Holmeses.”

“I don’t need someone to fight for me. I can fight for myself.”

“I have a rainy-day fund, you know,” she said, not quite looking at me. “Until recently, it was raining…rather a lot. But I…I’ve been trying to use an umbrella.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t trust you,” I said to my Holmes, in a low voice . . . “I meant to say that I won’t doubt you again.”
“You won’t,” she said with flat surprise. “You really won’t, will you?”

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

I really did enjoy A Study in Charlotte but I’m only giving in 3.5 stars because I ordered the next book in the series, The Last of August, right after finishing this book and still haven’t brought myself to read it. Usually if I love a book I read the next book in the series ASAP. In this case, something has been holding me back.

If you like a good mystery but nothing too dramatic then this is the book for you. Can we also take a moment to appreciate the beauty of this book cover? I’m a sucker for a good cover design!

Do you like Sherlock Holmes? Have you read any good books lately?

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April According to my iPhone

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April went by so fast! This month we were busy at work finishing up everything before the notorious tax day. My department is always pretty crazy during tax season and this year was no different.

April was also the start of our annual walking challenge at work. The challenge this year is to reach 10,000 steps every day. The team that finishes the challenge with the most points gets an extra vacation day or additional wellness dollars! Extra vacation day for me, please! Oscar is happy about the walking challenge because it means he gets to go for extra walks to help me reach my step goal.

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My bosses bought our team some games this year to play on chill Friday afternoons. One of the games is this giant Jenga set. We usually have 4:01s on Friday after the stock market closes where we unwind by playing a few games of Jenga together. Work hard, play hard. It’s all about balance afterall!

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As always, I spent a ton of time cuddling with my fur babies. Oscar is our dachshund mix and Lucy is our cat. I love how much they love each other too!

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I was heartbroken to watch the Notre Dame fire in Paris. I watched pretty much the whole thing live and felt devastated. I love history and am very lucky to have been able to visit the Notre Dame a few times already. This isn’t necessarily about a building or a church, it’s about living history. Everyone has their own opinions but I’m sad for the people of Paris and am hopeful to be able to see Notre Dame restored at some point.

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Brett has been traveling a ton for work. When he was in Atlanta for a week I made sure to FaceTime him every night so we could catch up and he could talk to Lucy and Oscar.

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Oscar’s first Easter with our family! He was probably living on the streets last year at this time which is really sad to think about. We love our rescue pup so much!

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Here’s a little look into our Easter decor. We hosted Easter dinner for Brett’s family. We used the dining room table (pictured below) to display the food and setup another table in our living room to eat. It turned out great! This was our second Easter in our home.

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Please note that I successfully cooked my first ham! Also note the Easter basket with the two pink eggs. My sister in law did her twin gender reveal on Easter! They are having twin girls and I could not be more excited! Baby shower planning is now in full swing!

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Our best friend graduated from college last weekend! We threw him a surprise graduation party in our backyard and invited all our friends and his family. He thought he was coming over so that I could drive everyone to dinner (professional DD!) but instead he found everyone waiting in our backyard ready to celebrate! It did snow a couple hours after this picture was taken. Michigan is unpredictable!

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I’m not sure that I’ve mentioned it on the blog but my parent’s adopted a dachshund puppy named Bruno in December. He’s a brindle like Oscar and they are best friends. Oscar is on the left and Bruno is on the right! My dad brings Bruno over to our house a lot for puppy play dates!

April was a super busy and super fun month! Looking back at all of these pictures makes me feel like a lot happened in only 30 days. I’m looking forward to the things to come in May including my cousin’s baby shower, Memorial Day weekend, lots and lots of dog walks, and (hopefully) the start of summer weather.

How was your April?

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