A Boy and His Giraffe

Meet ‘Raff, Eli’s new best buddy.

Eli has never before gotten attached to any of his stuffed animals.  My husband’s mother passed long before I met him so I never had the pleasure of knowing her, but one of the many things she was known for in the family was her love of giraffes. I think Eli’s Grandma Beverly would have been pleased by his choice. And look at that face. It does exude it’s fair share of personality. Eli likes to have ‘Raff do everything he does these days, including playing the guitar, coloring and reading stories (this involves bobbing his head along to the rhythm of the words). Thankfully we’ve been able to help ‘Raff avoid any forced participation in water play thus far.

After my first success with putting sleeves into a garment with my blanket sweater I decided it was time to try making t-shirts. I traced one of Eli’s current shirts to make a pattern and cut the pieces out of an old pair of yoga pants.

I first learned about making freezer paper stencils and using bleach pens from I Am Momma Hear Me Roar. It was finally (almost a year later) time to give it a whirl myself. I love the orange-brown color you get when bleaching black fabric. Just perfect for Eli’s giraffe! I was horrible about taking photos along the way for this project, but really wouldn’t have improved upon Cherie’s tutorial anyway. Kelley over at Restitch Me has also done some amazing work with freezer paper stencils. Check out the Hunger Games shirts she made for her teenagers here.

After I bleached the giraffe shape I embroidered around the edge and then added the facial features and the spots. A spot of mane at the top of the head and a tassel on the tail finished it off.

This project would never have been possible if Aunt Misa hadn’t completely charmed my son and spent copious amounts of time with him over the past week. Thanks, Misa!

I was told as a child that if you are good at embroidery the backside of your project will look as good as the front. Obviously I’m not very good at embroidery. I was pretty sure Eli would find all of the threads and knots irritating against his skin, and I shuddered to think of what could happen in the wash with things like bra clasps or velcro, so I sewed another piece of knit fabric over the back of the giraffe.

Once the giraffe was completed all that remained was to put the shirt together.

I’m pleased for the most part with how it came out. There are areas on it that look a little wonky to me, but nothing so bad that I feel compelled to rip out and resew. It’s a learning process and I think I will do better on the next shirt. I have quite a few other ideas on the drawing board.

Thanks for reading!

Karen

I’ve been featured!

Here’s where I’m linking up.

Sunday:

Homemaker on a Dime,  I {heart} Naptime,  Flamingo ToesMy 1929 Charmer Blog,

Monday:

Get Outta My Head PleaseSkip to My LouThe Gunny SackSew Can Do,

Singing Three Little BirdsEtcetorizeC.R.A.F.T.,  diy home sweet home,

Craft-O Maniac, Sew Chatty, Artful Rising,

Sarahndipities Just Winging ItEverything Under the Moon,

The Cure for the Common Monday

Tuesday:

At Home With KNot Just a HousewifeHope StudiosFunky Polkadot Giraffe,

Kammy’s KornerThe Kurtz CornerI’m Topsy TurvyTip Junkiethe space between,

Raising 4 PrincessesThe Creative Itch BoutiqueSchwin and Schwin

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Wednesday:

Sew Much AdoFrugally SustainableThe Shady PorchTea Rose HomeLil’ Luna,

Someday CraftsPassionately ArtisticWhatever WednesdayTrendy Tots

Thursday:

Mom On TimeoutThrifty DecoratingBear Rabbit Bear,

The Crafty BlogstalkerThe Shabby Creek CottageHouse of Hepworths,

Sorta Crunchy, Delightful OrderSaved by Love Creations,

Between U & Me,  Anything Goes Linky Party,

Friday:

Simply DesigningWhipperberry,  Happy Hour Projectskojodesigns,

Joyful StamperMaking Lemonade BlogThirty Handmade Days,

Release Me CreationsNaptime CraftersRomantic HomeFinding Fabulous,

Shabby NestFrench Country Cottage, The Charm of HomeThe Grant Life,

At the Picket FenceFingerprints on the Fridge, One Art Mama2805, Pencilled Daydream

Saturday:

The Gingerbread BlogToo Much Time On My Hands,

Six Sisters StuffSerenity YouBe Different Act Normal

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Nesting Robin & Painted Chair

When we visited my husband’s aunt in Washington D.C., (You got me, it was a few years back. I honestly don’t know how I will keep up with this blog between my widely spaced current projects once my old material dries up!) I was delighted by this robin who had built her nest right above Aunt Beneva’s front door!  

Once home I was inspired to paint a nest with eggs with acrylics in my sketchbook. I got the nice crisp edges all around with the use of blue painter’s tape. I wasn’t sure if it would peel off without harming the paper, but it worked just fine.

I had this old chair a neighbor had tried to throw away that I had already repainted a brownish black.

I took this photo wondering how the nest with eggs would look painted on the seat of the chair.

I decided to go for it.

I was tutoring back then and thought the little girls might like to sit on the chair while we worked, but they were so preoccupied with not sitting on the eggs it proved to be a bit much of a distraction.

They obviously knew a bit more about such things than I did at their age. My mom came home one afternoon to find six year old me sobbing in my room. When she asked me what was wrong I pulled back the covers of my bed to reveal a pike of broken and oozing eggs. “But I sat on them so very gently!” I wailed. My mother in her wisdom waited until she was could escape back to the car in the driveway to laugh until she cried. (I learned that part of the story quite a bit later on.)

I couldn’t get the edges around the eggs to be as smooth as I wanted as I was painting over a painted surface, but I was still basically pleased with the outcome.  The chair now belongs to my mother-in-law.

Thanks for reading!

Karen

Related articles

Here’s where I’m linking up.

Sunday:

Homemaker on a Dime,  I {heart} Naptime,  Flamingo ToesMy 1929 Charmer Blog,

Monday:

Get Outta My Head PleaseSkip to My LouThe Gunny SackSew Can Do,

Singing Three Little BirdsEtcetorizeC.R.A.F.T.,  diy home sweet home,

Craft-O Maniac, Sew Chatty, Artful Rising,

Sarahndipities Just Winging ItEverything Under the Moon,

The Cure for the Common Monday

Tuesday:

At Home With KNot Just a HousewifeHope StudiosFunky Polkadot Giraffe,

Kammy’s KornerThe Kurtz CornerI’m Topsy TurvyTip Junkiethe space between,

Raising 4 PrincessesThe Creative Itch BoutiqueSchwin and Schwin

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Wednesday:

Sew Much AdoFrugally SustainableThe Shady PorchTea Rose HomeLil’ Luna,

Someday CraftsPassionately ArtisticWhatever WednesdayTrendy Tots

Thursday:

Mom On TimeoutThrifty DecoratingBear Rabbit Bear,

The Crafty BlogstalkerThe Shabby Creek CottageHouse of Hepworths,

Sorta Crunchy, Delightful OrderSaved by Love Creations,

Between U & Me,  Anything Goes Linky Party,

Friday:

Simply DesigningWhipperberry,  Happy Hour Projectskojodesigns,

Joyful StamperMaking Lemonade BlogThirty Handmade Days,

Release Me CreationsNaptime CraftersRomantic HomeFinding Fabulous,

Shabby NestFrench Country Cottage, The Charm of HomeThe Grant Life,

At the Picket FenceFingerprints on the Fridge, One Art Mama2805

Saturday:

The Gingerbread BlogToo Much Time On My Hands,

Six Sisters StuffSerenity YouBe Different Act Normal

And the winner is…

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway for the Sakura tea.

Sakura (Cherry Blossom) Tea

  We employed the high tech method of writing your names on a slip of paper and pulling one from an envelope. I could have used the opportunity to learn how to use the random number generator I see used on other people’s blogs, but this seemed more fun.

Misa and Kevin, who brought the tea with them from Japan, did the honors.

And the winner is… mamacravings. She has a newer blog that prominently features her adorable son, who is also a 2 year old Eli. Give her a visit and show some love. 🙂

Enjoy!

Memories of Istanbul

There is a a lot happening in our lives these days that takes precedence over doing sewing or crafting projects. So in the absence of the “just created” perhaps now is another good opportunity to pull out some old travel photos to share. You don’t mind if they are from 2006, do you?

These were taken during the same trip that I was able to share with my husband that I’ve bloggged about in the post Images of Ireland. After leaving the Emerald Isle we went on to Istanbul.

While my husband worked during the day in the office there, I would wander around the neighborhood where it was located taking pictures. I quickly fell in love with Istanbul. The stone streets, the attitude of hospitality to strangers, the Grand Bazaar, the history that stretches back so very much further than anything here in the US. Actually the length of history in Turkey rivals just about anywhere you might visit.

Random acts of English.

Istanbul has an abundance of street cats… many of them very friendly. One of the ways I amused myself was to go buy small fish from the fishmonger to feed the cats. If you know me, you know that as a child I aspired to grow up to be the crazy cat lady. Well, maybe not so crazy, but definitely the cat lady. My cousin and I would scheme and plan for hours about how we would run a cat farm. We couldn’t understand why nobody else was already doing it. Barns full of cats and kittens… so much more fun than cows to our 6 and 7 year old minds. (Obviously long before I understood the importance of spaying and neutering.) For most of my life I have shared my home with multiple cats.

So this was the behavior one would expect from me by plunking me down in a place with swarms of cats, a source of inexpensive fish and a lot of time to burn. The locals though, did not know me, of course. It hadn’t been my intention, but I did manage to draw a lot of attention to myself. One lady lectured me in a very heated tone, complete with wagging finger for at least 5 minutes. When she would stop to take a breath I would try to say that I didn’t speak Turkish, but this just made her inhale deeper and lecture a bit louder (though just as rapid-fire).

Forgive the obnoxious watermark. This wasn't the size or placement I chose, and somehow when Image Bucket went rogue it managed to overwrite both the original and the duplicate of the photo. Technology and I can be a dangerous combination, even though I'd swear this wasn't my fault!

I’m pretty sure she was worried about my exposing myself to who-knows-what-kinds-of-germs by touching the filthy felines. That’s my guess as it seemed to be the concern of other people as well. One shopkeeper left his shop to hurry over to me with a bottle of water which he poured while he insisted I wash my hands. I showed him that I was carrying and using hand sanitizer but he wasn’t impressed. After these two experiences I continued to enjoy the cats, just a little more discreetly, around the corner into alleyways and the like.

This one, while not the most attractive, was especially endearing to me. He followed me for a long time, meowing continuously. He just wanted me to stop and pet him. He let all the other cats be distracted by the fish so he could monopolize me for attention. Eventually I had to start ignoring him as it was impossible to just take him home with me. I can still hear him meowing after me when he finally gave up, sat down and just watched me go.

My first day out I was so proud of myself at being clever enough to take a quick picture of the street sign at the corner by the office. I didn’t congratulate myself at being clever enough to write down the office phone number and take it with me, because, um…, I wasn’t.

Istanbul is NOT laid out on a grid. And while it could not be accused of being without visual interest and variation, when everything you look at is new and exotic looking to you it becomes hard to remember landmarks. I quickly became lost, and in trying to find my way back, became even more so. This is where I found out how very hospitable Turkish people are. I showed someone the picture I had taken and he didn’t recognize it, so he looked for somebody else. This happened again and again until finally I found myself escorted through the neighborhood by about 7 men who had each dropped what they were doing and made it their personal responsibility to make sure the silly tourist got back safely. It turned out almost nobody recognized the street corner because the streets had been given new names the week before.

A chair in the early morning light in the home of our hostess.

I really liked this photo taken from the window of the Archaeological Museum, until it was marred by the overzealous watermark.

We were just there for about a week, and it was primarily a work trip, but we did get to see quite a few sights there in Istanbul during the afternoons and over the weekend. We visited the Hippodrome, The Grand Bazaar, the Egyptian Spice Bazaar, the Archaeological Museum, the Aya Sofya and the Blue Mosque. Unfortunately, most of the photos I took inside these places turned out too blurry to be blog-worthy.

Ferries for crossing the Bosphorus between the Asian and European sides of the city.

We took a boat ride along the beautiful Bosporous and had one delightful culinary experience after another. So it stands to reason that I hope to be able to return to Turkey some day to re-experience it all but also to travel elsewhere in the country to see Cappadocia, and other archeological sights.

Sakura Revisited

Giveaway Closed. Thank you to all who entered. 🙂 

A little while back I wrote  a post about the cherry blossom tea I was enjoying thanks to a gift from my sister-in-law, Misa. Well, my brother and his wife are now here from Japan to spend some time with my mother (and the rest of us as well).

And they came bearing gifts!

This was the wrapping covering the box of delicious Sakura (cherry blossom) pastries we received. Shamelessly ripped open as you can see.

In my original post I received a comment asking if the cherry blossom was edible. I knew it couldn’t hurt you to eat it but I had no idea it could be used in such a delicious confection!

I can’t go back and get a shadow free photo because these didn’t last long! The outside is made of mochi, a paste made of pounded glutinous rice. If you are not familiar with mochi ice cream (and can indulge) try out the mochi covered ice cream balls they sell at Trader Joe’s. You’ll thank me.

Sliced open, the cherry blossom paste filling is revealed! SO creamy, sweet, delicious… and now gone (shuddering sob-stifling sigh….)

I wondered if Eli, super-picky eater extraordinaire, would like it.

Um,… that would be yes.

So now to reward you for reading through a post about an incredible treat you probably can’t find to buy, and I can’t give a tutorial about how to prepare (yea, sorry about that…), I am happy to announce that Kevin and Misa brought me an extra container of cherry blossom tea.

A cup of sakurayu

A cup of sakurayu (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, if you would like to try the tea for yourself leave a comment below. I’ll choose the winner at random next Sunday (4/22/12). If you didn’t see my post about the tea and want to know more go here.

Good luck!

Karen

An Open Letter to California Legislators

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author of this guest post and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Folkhaven or its associates.

**********************************************************************************

Dear California Legislators,

Let me introduce myself. My name is Eli. In a mere 16 years I shall be an active constituent and as such I feel it is never too early for my voice to be heard!

Let me shake your hand.

I would like to bring to your attention my thoughts and feelings about our current state Child Safety Seat Laws. They state as follows:

Children under the age of 8 must be secured in a car seat or booster seat in the back seat. 

Now I think you may find cause to reconsider once you can see what a happy place the back seat can be in the absence of the dreaded child safety seat.

 Be sure to note the sparkling eyes and the open mouth grin. Surely every family with chronologically-challenged members in the state of California deserves to experience more of this sort of happy moment of conviviality in their lives as they prepare to rush about to their various destinations.

Just look at the range of movement allowed! I can look all the way to the side without finding me nose smashed in the side of the head protector thingy.

And surely you remember how fun it was to play in the backseat unfettered during your childhood back in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s. You probably stood on the back seat and played with your matchbox cars on the back dashboard, waved at the people driving behind you, or stretched out luxuriously on the backseat for a delicious nap when the journey got a little long (assuming, of course, the rest of the seat wasn’t packed full of siblings!) How can you now deny such pleasures to the rest of us who are also yearning to breath free in the back seat?!

But no! We are strapped and restrained mercilessly, even to just go to the corner grocery store. And now I learn that I have to look forward to 6 more years of this inhumane treatment?!

Please tell me you will reconsider, and will look at this issue from the viewpoint of those most affected by your decisions!

You are our only hope!

(Car accidents, you say…  road safety studies? What are those?)

Sincerely,

Eli

A Little Something to Keep Me Warm

Lately it seems I am always cold. I have a throw blanket that I really like. I love the colors and the design. It is also very soft on the darker side.

Unfortunately it is just a little too small. You know the type, can’t quite cover both the feet and the shoulders at once. Not even when the person seeking maximum coverage is only 5’2″. Sigh…

So it was time for a change. The blanket would have to be sacrificed. I got out my trusty freezer paper and taped together two pieces. I used an oversized shirt I really like as a guide to make a pattern for my new sweater. For the front and back pieces I pushed the sleeves back inside-out to get the curve of the arm hole.

Then I added 1/2″ seam allowance.

I cut out the pattern pieces and ironed them onto the blanket. Then I cut them out using pinking shears to minimize the unraveling of the woven fabric.

The front piece was just like the back piece except that the neckline dipped down.

The two pieces were pinned right sides together then sewn and the seam edges zigzagged. I like the bolder color of the red, but that was also the softer side of the blanket. Since my main motivation for making this is that I’m feeling so chilled as of late, having the sweater fuzzy and soft on the inside won out. This is my hug-in-a-garment sweater.

To make the sleeves, I traced the sleeve onto the freezer paper.

Added the seam allowance.

Cut it out and ironed it onto a folded piece of the blanket fabric. The fold is along the upper edge of the sleeve. When I made the pattern piece I added extra length to fold up and hem at the cuff. I then decided to use the already finished edge of the blanket so the excess length of the pattern piece is hanging over the edge in the photo. Because the piece is on a double thickness of the blanket, I also pinned it in place after ironing the freezer paper on to prevent any shifting about as I cut it out.

Then it was time to sew down the seam at the underside of each sleeve.

Adding the sleeves to the sweater made me very nervous. I had never done this before and I had read that it was a difficult thing to do. Fear of attaching sleeves is the main reason I haven’t sewn sleeved shirts before (other than a raglan PJ top for Eli). It went so smoothly! I’ll be sewing many more shirts in the future.

At this point all that was left was to attach bias tape around the neck and the bottom of the sweater. I was happy to find I had this wide double fold brown bias tape in my stash bought back when Joanne’s was having a big sale. I was happy I didn’t have to run out an buy anything for this project. I have enough left that if I decide I want to also change the way the ends of the sleeves are finished I can.

Behold my new ultra-cuddly, wear a blanket in public, sweater. This is what stands between me and the ultimate humiliation of wearing a Forever Lazy. I know everyone around me is thankful.

This was all that was left of the blanket that gave her all for my obsession with getting warm.

Thanks for reading!

Karen

Here’s where I’m linking up.

Sunday:

Homemaker on a Dime,  I {heart} Naptime,  Flamingo ToesMy 1929 Charmer Blog,

Monday:

Get Outta My Head PleaseSkip to My LouThe Gunny SackSew Can Do,

Singing Three Little BirdsEtcetorizeC.R.A.F.T.,  diy home sweet home,

Craft-O Maniac, Sew Chatty, Artful Rising,

Sarahndipities Just Winging ItEverything Under the Moon,

The Cure for the Common Monday

Tuesday:

At Home With KNot Just a HousewifeHope StudiosFunky Polkadot Giraffe,

Kammy’s KornerThe Kurtz CornerI’m Topsy TurvyTip Junkiethe space between,

Raising 4 PrincessesThe Creative Itch BoutiqueSchwin and Schwin

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Wednesday:

Sew Much AdoFrugally SustainableThe Shady PorchTea Rose HomeLil’ Luna,

Someday CraftsPassionately ArtisticWhatever WednesdayTrendy Tots

Thursday:

Mom On TimeoutThrifty DecoratingBear Rabbit Bear,

The Crafty BlogstalkerThe Shabby Creek CottageHouse of Hepworths,

Sorta Crunchy, Delightful OrderSaved by Love Creations,

Between U & Me,  Anything Goes Linky Party,

Friday:

Simply DesigningWhipperberry,  Happy Hour Projectskojodesigns,

Joyful StamperMaking Lemonade BlogThirty Handmade Days,

Release Me CreationsNaptime CraftersRomantic HomeFinding Fabulous,

Shabby NestFrench Country Cottage, The Charm of HomeThe Grant Life,

At the Picket FenceFingerprints on the Fridge, One Art Mama2805

Saturday:

The Gingerbread BlogToo Much Time On My Hands,

Six Sisters StuffSerenity YouBe Different Act Normal

The Long Goodbye

My mom entered hospice care this past week.  She has reached the point where she no longer wants to eat or take her medicine. She has stopped moving her body at night so she has begun to develop bed sores. It has just been in the past few weeks that she has begun to slip away so very rapidly.

She was first diagnosed with early onset dementia during my senior year of high school in 1990.

For twenty-two years she has been painfully aware of each new loss as the disease slowly took and took and took from her. She lost her profession as a registered nurse and later her ability to work at all. She lost her sense of smell and eventually taste as well. She lost her ability to drive, and with that her freedom. Recently she lost her ability to read, which is how she has filled her days for years. She has had to mourn loss after loss after loss. Dementia is insidious, relentless, and in my mother’s case, incredibly slow.

I had long thought I looked forward to her finally getting to the point where she had lost enough awareness that she would no longer be tormented by all of her losses. I thought it would be so much easier. And it is… for her. And for that I am thankful.

But I am finding that I’m surprised by how hard it is for me. I mean, I’ve know this time was coming my entire adult life. I thought I’d be ready when the time came. But now when I visit this shell of the woman that is my mother it makes me incredibly sad. She is so vacant. I sat with her today for an hour but she couldn’t carry on even the simplest of conversations with me. I held her hand and she didn’t respond. At all. It would have felt to same to have held an inanimate object in my hand.

I knew it was coming, but this is much harder than I had expected.

Eli, however, managed to get a smile out of her twice during our visit. She seemed to really enjoy his hug and kiss when it was time for us to leave. Yet she didn’t seem disappointed at all to see us go. After we had left it occurred to me that I’m not at all certain that she knew who I was. Today was the first time I’ve ever wondered that.

My mom with Eli at my brother's wedding,
May 2011.

Letter to Eli, 25 Months

Dear Eli,

Today you are 25 months old. This past month your immune system has been given quite the workout! As soon as you are fever-free long enough to go back to speech therapy you promptly pick up another bug. This month you have had the flu, a sinus infection and croup. I guess it’s all part of the rite of passage of being a toddler going out into the world.

You are currently feeling much better and, as the weather has gotten so nice out lately, it has become very difficult to coax you back in from the outdoors. You can now open the screen door by yourself, and if I forget to lock it you are quick to make a break for it.

Playing with your little wagon is a favorite activity. You push…

or pull it up the hill. It’s a lot of work for a little guy.

But then comes the fun of chasing the wagon back down the hill…

or letting it chase you. Too much fun that must be repeated over and over again.

“Gardening” also is endlessly entertaining what with all the dirt and water involved. The plants aren’t quite so interesting, although you couldn’t pass by the jasmine without smelling it while it was in bloom.

You like to drop twigs and dirt down the storm drain,

or watch the traffic go by. Buses and trucks are super exciting!

You continue your campaign to convince us that air conditioners are actually really big drums in disguise.

Daddy is still the coolest person in your universe (even cooler than Elmo!)

Working just like Daddy on your laptop.

One of the biggest developments for you this month has been that you have started to sing! You have decided that the arm of your highchair is a microphone. Seeing you singing and playing your guitar is about the cutest thing EVER!

Singing a duet with Jose Feliciano.

Just last month you wanted to be in the Ergo most of the time we were out of the house. That wave of separation anxiety is waning and you are wanting down to walk more and more. (My back thanks you!) It used to be to show us something you would demand to be picked up and then would direct us where to go. These days you will try instead to lead us by the hand, or more frequently, by the thigh. I haven’t fallen yet but have come close a time or two when your tug was sudden and unexpected.

Riding a bike has finally become appealing enough that you will endure the dreaded helmet, at least for short periods of time.

I don’t have a picture of this as it happens quickly and then the moment is over, but when you are feeling thankful for something you will rush over and bestow kisses on the hand that is doing the thing that pleases you. Most recently it you did it to your daddy when he played guitar with you, and your Aunt Jacki when she put on the DVD you really, really wanted to see. You are such a charmer!

You love pointing to letters and having them named for you.

You rode a merry go round for the first time this month and LOVED it!

Sidewalk chalk isn’t a new thing for you, but I like this photo of you using it.

Most important of all, this month you have really fallen in love with books. I can’t begin to tell you how happy you make me when you pick one out and ask me to read to you! You have all sorts of endearing reading behaviors, but I already wrote about them here, so I’ll just end this month’s letter with a picture of you enjoying a story with your Aunt Jacki and your guitar.

I love you very, very, very much!

Mama

I’ve never reblogged before, but this is too cool to pass up! After all what’s better than chocolate and raising money for a great cause?

It's a Wunderful Life

OK – I usually don’t post more than twice a week so this is new for me but. . . . saw this and couldn’t pass it up!  This is from http://www.makingtimeformommy.com and the actual post can be read here.  There is an additional giveaway at the bottom of the post so make sure to visit it!

“I am a huge fan of any company that donates money to a great cause on behalf of it’s consumers so I’m really excited to share about what Lindt is doing. For the third year in a row, Lindt is partnering with Autism Speaks to raise money for Autism Awareness and it’s simple for you to be a part of it.

For every re-pin on Pinterest that Lindt gets {between now and Easter} they will be donating $10 to Autism Speaks {up to $10,000}. I know the majority of you are as…

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