When your child wants to save everything…

As you can see from my prior blog postings, I love to organization.  But I have child who does not.  I recently told him that the sight of his room, literally, puts me into a panic attack.  His response, “Mama, I think you are being a little dramatic and you’re still alive.”  I think he confused panic attack with heart attack and I might be a little dramatic here.  But I have good reason, his room is a mess and getting him to pick up, sort-out, put away, throw-away, give-away is a battle. 

So, I warned him, that I was going to “gut” his room which means clean it, sort it, organize it, etc.  My only promise to him was that I wouldn’t throw anything away (eye roll) which I did throw away ½ a plastic bag of paper trash. 

He left for school and I stood in his room.  I looked around at everything he had and I could see that I had made a mistake.  He likes to collect stuff and we have 100s of books and very limited shelving or storage.  He has one little bookcase to cram books and his collections on, the top of a narrow dresser and that is it.  That was my fault, I should have taken note that he had no place to put his treasures/collections. 

I sorted his toys and closet.  He has 13 footballs, but I didn’t get rid of one but I really wanted too!!  I did come across puzzles, super hero dress clothes, shoes, games, etc. that he had outgrown and I could garage sale which I did and made $80.  I ran to a local antique store and looked at shelves and found a rusty, industrial metal shelf that needed a good paint job but would be great to show off his collections and provide much more space for books. 

I also picked up a large wooden tool box which he could use to sort out collections and/or store books.  I am also a sucker for wooden crates.  Clean up and put some wheels on it and you have a great storage piece for blankets, toys, pillows, etc.  He needed something to put all his blankets in.  Everything cost me around $80 and I picked up some spray paint.  I scrubbed, painted, and finished vacuuming and sorting his room and by 4:00 pm, I could put it all back together. 

Walking into his room now, is much more enjoyable now.  It looks 1000 times more updated, mature, organized, and completely decluttered.  On top of that, I broke even in cost. 

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I learned a few lessons:

·       Redoing/organizing can be cheap, if though-out.

·       Know what you need to make the space work (don’t just go buy storage pieces if they don’t serve a purpose).

·       Organize your child’s room when they are not home.  (At some point, he and I will do it together, but I want him to be a little older).

·       Understand what your child likes, values, or wants to “show off” in their room and spotlight that.  I want my son to love his room, it’s his space and I want it to reflect him, not me.

·       Magnet board or bulletin board is a must for most kids.  I ordered a metal magnet board for his prized ribbons, artwork, homework, etc.  He proudly wants to display those items. 


Purposely Purging: Clothes

As I have mentioned in a prior posting, I love to organize everything.  I feel so much better when everything has a place and there is a system or reason for placement/organizing.  One of the first organizational projects I tackled was my closet.  I personally thought that clothing would be the easiest for me even though I love clothing, certain brands, fashions, etc.  However, I find that I can part easier with clothing than I can with books, anything in paper form, little collections of antiques, etc.

I had read a number of organizational books which all gave me a number of tips to follow and multiple ways I can organize, fold, and store my clothing.  I knew I needed to set aside a couple of hours to do this and that meant completely emptying the whole closet, literally.  I really didn’t think I had that much clothing until I saw it all on the floor in a giant pile.  That is part of the point, we all probably have way too much clothing.  Here are the steps I followed:

·        Four piles were formed: keep, garage sale, donations, throw-away

·        I picked up each item, studied it for stains, rips, missing buttons, etc.  If it did have any of these, I put it in a maybe pile, depending on if I thought it could be fixed or that If I used it enough to merit keeping it.

·        When I picked up each item, I thought to myself, “Do I really love this piece; do I like the way I look in it; do I like the way I feel when I wear it?” From those questions, you go with your immediate response and don’t go back (don’t go pull items out of the donate pile to the keep pile). 

·        Go thought all clothing: socks, bras, dress clothes, shoes, tops, swimsuits, coats, etc.

·        Another rule of thumb I stick too is that if I have not worn an item for more than 6 months, it goes.  If you really like the item and you like how it looks on you, then you will find a way to wear it within 6 months.

·        Big question: how many pairs of workout/lounge clothing do you really need?  There is a huge market for these clothing items but if you work someplace where you cannot wear these items on a daily basis but you like to slip them on for the weekend or a few nights a week, do you need 15 pairs of black yoga pants or 10 dry fit shirts?  Pair down clothing styles to what fits your life and work schedule.   I love these clothing items, I would wear workout clothing all day if I could but I can’t.  So it is unrealistic for me to keep dozens and dozens of workout clothing on hand.  Instead I have a couple pairs of yoga pants, half a dozen t-shirts, and half a dozen workout shorts.  I did own twice as much at one point and I still find myself wanting to purchase oversized Pink sweatshirts from time-to-time because they look so cozy! (Resists the urge!)

·        Discourage: try not move items after they are in piles and do not put them in tubs and store them somewhere.  That completely defeats the purpose.  The items need to go out of your house (not to garage or storage shed, but off your property). 

·        Figure out an organizational system and folding system that works for you.  I like to roll my clothing (pants, shorts, t-shirts) they take up less space and I can easily see what I have in the closet/drawer. 

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The slide show displays my closet prior, mid-process (dumping all the clothing on the floor) and then the after which you can see everything is folder (rolled), takes up a lot less space and looks a lot less cluttered.  This whole process took me 3 hours and I actually love looking into my closet now.  I can see what I have and everything is in its place.  I would rather have a closet with less items but items that I love and feel good wearing.  You can have super cute tops but if you don’t like how you look in it, then it needs to go.  This is where people get snagged or they think they will lose weight, or they will wear it next summer, etc.  The excuses go on and on. 

If you have clothes stored in multiple closets and/or locations (tubs of clothing under the bed, in the basement, attic, etc.) those need to come out of for his purging.

I wish you luck.  The more clothes, the longer the process but I promise that you will you feel much better and actually love to open or walk-into your closet after you are done!  Happy purging!!   

I Stepped on the Scales Today…

Today, at the local wellness center, I decided to step on the scales.  Like what you use at the doctor’s office.  I normally would take off every piece of clothing possible and shoes, hoping to lessen the load.  I know this has little impact but makes me feel better.  Those types of scales hide nothing.  I closed my eyes and stepped on, shoes and all.  I started moving the balance, more and more to the right until it evened out. 

125.  To help with this shock, I reminded myself that I had my shoes on and an extra layer of clothing (please know that I am  5 feet 1 inch in height).   However, 125 is where I am going to start out.  I use AdvoCare products year round for vitamins and supplements.  I do a 24-day challenge about 3 times a year.  I love the products and they keep me healthy.  I don’t think that AdvoCare is right for everyone, that you got to find the right products, diet, workout, etc. that fits you and your body/lifestyle. 

I love sugar but I am also a good fruit, veggie, and fairly clean eater.  My other vice is coffee, like Starbucks drinks with hundreds of calories. Which I allow myself 3-4 of those types of drinks a month.  I also like wine.  So, a sweet tooth, with coffee and wine.  What a great combination for diet failure and diabetes. 


But I want to get more toned, eat healthier and stay healthy.  The number on the scales is ok, not where I want to be, but I don’t get sick; I have lots of energy; and I feel pretty good but I could be better.  There are parts of my body that I dislike. 

So, here is my commitment to myself and my body:

o   I will love and appreciate my body…period. 

o   I will commit to working out 4-5 times a week (because I like to work out and feel 1000 times better when I leave the gym).

o   I will stay away from sugar, sweets, candy, high sugar coffee drinks, etc.  I will be more knowledgeable about sugar. I will allow myself to spurge 2 times a month.

o   I commit to making more food and eating less processed food (this includes soups, salad dressings, and frozen veggies which I eat a lot of in the winter).

o   I will weigh in weekly and hold myself accountable.

o   I commit to a vitamins and supplements which help keep me healthy.

What can you commit too to have healthier lifestyle? What can you do for yourself to feel healthier?  I hate weighing myself, I hate to measure myself and I am sure as heck not taking any selfies of myself to show pre/post of any change but more power to those who do!  I just don’t have the self-confidence to do so. 

I am starting at 125, an AdvoCare Challenge and lots of clean eating which means food prep which is not one of my favorite things.  But it is true, the more your plan, the better you stick with it.  Plus, you are what you eat.  I can’t be 125-pound pile of coffee and sugar. 

Vacationing with Kids is not a Vacation

I love making memories with my kids.  I enjoy taking them places and sharing new experiences with them.  I hope these experiences have an impact on them as they continue to grow and learn about history, science, government, sports, civic service, etc.  However, that goes without saying that taking kids on trips is hard work!!  It down right sucks sometimes.  Meltdowns, unforeseen traffic or weather snags, flight changes (any parent who has been stranded in an airport with children needs a gold metal or a strong drink).  The list could go on and on.  Or the child who has to be dragged around and makes the trip miserable for everyone.  I have experienced all of the above.  IMG_8605

I love history, therefore I subject me children to a lot of historical related trips.  This includes historical homes, battle fields, museums, etc.  They are good sports about it, most of the time.  One of my favorite historical figures is Thomas Jefferson.  Even though a flawed man in many ways, he was also a very brilliant man when it came to government, writing, science, agriculture, etc.  I had the opportunity to take a private tour of Jefferson’s home in conjunction with a grant I received to do some research at their local library on the property.  I loved everything about his home.  To walk where Jefferson walked, to be surrounded by his books, science experiments, and collections was incredible.  So, why not take my older son there (the other was not born yet).

Kale was 3 ½ and I remember us walking up the steps to Monticello and our guide gave a frown to Kale.  But the tours are child friendly but he was on the young side.  Half-way through the tour, we were in the parlor and Kale started to sing and would not stop.  I pulled him aside and he still kept it up.  The tour guide walked us over to a side door that led out to the portico and she politely asked for us to step out of the tour.  Kale and I stood there as she closed the glass doors behind us.  Mind you my mother was with us, and I am pretty sure she was pretending to not know us. 

Kale and I walked out onto Jefferson’s lawn and he looked at me and I said, “Way to go buddy, you got us kicked out.”  He still looked puzzled and he said, “Kicked out?”  I responded with “Yes, we are out.”  It sunk in at this point and he threw himself on the ground and threw the most ridiculous tantrum on Jefferson’s lawn.  I am not sure what Jefferson would have thought had he be standing there.  I often question myself as a parent in regards to taking my kids to places like this?  Will they remember it; will they care; do they understand the significance of it; will it influence them in some way? 

As much of a pain it is to travel with kids and take them to places like Monticello, I would still do it.  Taking them to Disney Land or Lego Land would be just as challenging if not more due to crowds, lines, etc.  But we still do it.  Some of own happiest childhood memories are wrapped up in family vacations, trips the lake or the beach, seeing a musical or play, or taking a trip to a theme park or historical site.

Today, I am just better prepared.  My type A overtakes me when it comes to trip planning and organizing right down to zip lock one-gallon plastic bags that are filled in a neat order with snacks, so I don’t constantly have to be handing back gummy snacks or granola bars while driving. All electronics are charged; dvd’s stored in the car; books and coloring books organized; etc.  (God forbid my kids look the window on their trips, like most of us did as kids). 

 I pre-buy all tickets so we don’t’ wait in lines.  We research the place, get a map, know where we want to go.  Plus, as my kids get older, it gets easier.  The more we do, the better they are at responding to situations.   Less tantrums on presidential lawns.   But I also know (realistically) that part of the trip is going to have challenges, kids will act up, fights will occur, arguments, etc.  Part of it might possibly suck.  But I am realistic in expecting some of these things to happen.  I also travel with wine now.

Addicted to Organizing


It’s true, I have a couple of addictions.  Step 1 is to confront the addiction which means to admit that I have one (or a couple).  So, my addictions include: Starbucks coffee, Jcrew clothing, and organizing (everything).  There, I admit it.  This blog post will focus on how I organize my home and life.  I have truly read just about every organizational book out there.  Some of have been really good, helpful, etc. while others have not been overly insightful.  But everyone organizes their home and life differently.  Some people hate organization and that is fine too.  You might not care to read this post.

I LOVE order, structure, knowing what is coming up, knowing where everything is, etc.  I like to simplify and get rid of stuff.  I find great satisfaction in taking bags of clothing, un-played with toys, outdated home décor items, etc. out of my home.  I feel better, lighter, less weighed down by STUFF!  I can suffocate under stuff, clutter; items that just sit there and serve no use or purpose (if they did, you would be using them) and take up space, collect dust.  CLUTTER makes me anxious, stressed, depressed, give me a sense of no control, etc.  If my house and life are “cluttered,” I cannot function. 

These are organizational principles I live by.  I will also be posting more blog post that relate to organization, ideas, tips, creative ways to organize with items around your house, etc. 

Organization should make sense:  Sorting, keeping, purging, etc. items should make sense.  Everyone has a routine or if you watch how your family gets ready in the morning or how they get out the door, how they get ready in the morning, there is a system.  If you pin-point what you want to organize or an area in your home that is out of control, all the time, and watch how everyone uses that space.  Then work from that point. Make it functional.  I think the most challenging places to organize are the spaces you use the most.  But it can be done, but takes time, effort, and commitment to organization and functionality. 

Everything should have a place: Everything should have spot, where it calls home.  If not, then items get thrown, cluttered up, piled, lost, etc.  Items like sunglasses, hats, gloves, and car keys should be by the back door; reading glasses, Kleenex, books, index cards, and pens are on my night stand; coffee, cups, spoons, flavor syrups are all together, etc.  Group like items together, put them in one space, that is easy to remember.  

Be creative with your organization: look around your house for containers, baskets, boxes, etc. that you can use to sort or store items.  You would be surprised what you have around the house that you decorate with or don’t use, that can serve a purpose.  My old cake bundt cake pans now hold crayons; a flower bucket can hold Duplo Legos; baskets hold books, mason jars old collections of shells, coins, etc.   

Don’t waste time organizing something that won’t stay organized (example Legos): my love of organization reached its madness when I decided to spend 8 hours (over the course of 3 days) sorting Legos by color.   My kids love Legos and play with them all the time.  Are they going to put them back by color?  Are they going to take apart their new creations and put each Lego back by color?  NO.  If I get them to pick up the Legos, period, it is a win.   I loved how the sorting looked, I liked establishing order to something that seemed out of order but what a waste of time.  I want my kids to play with Legos.  Therefore, they will be unorganized.  This does secretly bug me, but this is a battle not worth fighting.  

Routine of decluttering: this is an easy task, just set a realistic goal.  For example, one day a week, work on decluttering one part of your house.  If there is a spot in your kitchen where paper/mail/bills/kids’ homework/etc. all pile up, then wait till the weekend or one evening and sort, trash and wipe down that part of the counter.  A few other places that need attention on a routine basis: where ever you pay or store bills, back door areas with shoes/coats, etc., counter tops; pretty much a space that becomes a dumping ground during the week.    It only takes 10-15 minutes to declutter this small area/piles.

Organization takes some time but for many, the less piles of clutter around, the happier, functional, and usable space becomes.    


Taking a chance on a cabinet

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I really like re-doing furniture.  I can visualize what pieces of furniture can look like with some TLC, basic cleaning and conditioning, and a fresh coat of paint or stain.  I love seeing the possibilities! 

This all started with 4-H when I was involved in the Home Environment project.  We would purchase old furniture and I spend part of the spring/summer working on projects such as old trunks, tables, chairs, etc.  Today, I have moved down the path of milk paint and experimenting with other chalk based paints.  The texture and chipping elements add dimension and interest to the pieces of furniture. 

I love following Miss Mustard Seed (https://missmustardseed.com/) and I like using her milk paint to experiment with but it is not for the faint of heart.  But she provides tutorials and looks of creative content that is very inspiring on her site!   

This cabinet, was one of my biggest projects.  I found it on an online garage sale site and paid $65 for it.   When we brought it home, I thought “maybe I am over my head on this one” but after lots of cleaning, two coats of chalk based flat grey paint, and two coats of waxing on the front and on the shelves, it turned out well! 

It now serves as a pantry/coffee bar for us.  It can also serve as a linen closet or a hold a TV in a bedroom and baskets for clothing.  So, it is very versatile.  I love pieces that I can use in numerous ways.  Then I tend not to get tired of the pieces, especially large pieces of furniture.  Below are the before and after pictures.   It turned out well and fits our needs.  Looking forward to my next furniture purchase/project!

Traveling Alone Isn’t For Sissies


This quote is from Hope Floats (the movie) but instead, in the movie, the line is “Dinning alone isn’t for sissies.”  Agree, doing anything alone, for some people, can be hard.  But I crave time alone, I need it to recharge, to think, to clear my head.

I took a trip to Ireland last fall, all by myself (gasp) and it was wonderful!  I have never traveled alone to another country but I have traveled to Europe a couple times prior.  I did get some lectures about traveling alone but, if you know me, I am very responsible and I am aware there are risk.  I never wrote down my experience but did share pictures on Facebook and Instagram.  But when I was asked why I wanted to go to Ireland, my response always was, “I want to see the greenest green and the bluest blues.  I want to be inspired and see colors, buildings, eat good food and learn about Irish culture.”

I did just that; I saw the most beautiful, vibrant colors, greenest grass, amazing historical structures that were 1000’s of years old, learned about Irish history and culture, and much more.  What I liked best, is that I was on my own time, doing what I wanted, when I wanted.

I traveled to Glendalough, to Belfast (Northern Ireland, technically part of Britain), to the Powercourt Estate, Wicklow mountains, Dublin castle, parks, castles, churches, all sorts of museums, etc.  I was so enchanted by the culture, traditions, and the charm of Ireland, that I can’t wait to return!  The people were always helpful and kind; travel was easy and the cities are easy to get around in; prices were reasonable, maybe even cheap to compared to other European countries.

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Below are a few things I learned about traveling alone:

  • Don’t live in fear: however, use common sense. I choose not to spend my evenings in pubs and bars.  When I read about Irish culture, there are common hours of the evening where groups of young men and women will go out for drinks.  Even through this wasn’t far from my hotel, I didn’t feel comfortable going out, around the bar scene at night by myself.  There is also lots of small, dark allies/roads in the city due to the age of the city.  I didn’t think it wise to walk around at night let alone down these allies. But all in all, Dublin is pretty safe.
  • Dinner for one: I ate alone which I have no problem with. I usually carried a book or reading material with me to keep me busy.  I would usually have a drink or wine with my meal.  Then I would head back to my hotel before it got dark.  But you can’t be afraid to dine alone.  Enjoy your meal, enjoy your surrounds, etc.
  • Plan your day: I got so much bang for buck because I am so type A. I had pre-bought my tour tickets, and had each day mapped out.  I did leave spaces to go get souvenirs or go walk around a park.  My phone keeps track of my steps and I walked over 10 miles my first day there.  I covered the town!  But that leads to the next point.
  • Know the lay of the land: get your map situated, note the streets, understand your directions because you’re off a little with a new place. I wanted to be familiar with how the roads went.  In older cities, roads don’t run straight.  This helped me plan my days if I could map out how I was walking somewhere.  I always wanted to be to the point, that within 2 days, that I didn’t need a map to get around, so I looked less like a tourist.  Also knowing how public transportation works is important (mostly bus and train in Ireland).

The last point I would make is to embrace the country and culture.  Go with an open mind and ready to learn and soak up the experience.  I wanted to grow from this trip and I did.  I can’t wait to return within the next couple years.


Do I need a side hustle?



With the New Years’ and buyer’s remorse as credit card bills roll in from December purchases, the need to look for more money making opportunities is at the top of the list for many.  Pinterest has a million and one posting about side jobs for anyone looking for part-time work or for stay-at-home parents; make $40,000 a year with a blog; make a quick $100 doing side jobs; start making $200 a week taking surveys, etc.  The list could go on and on.  Many of these opportunities are not legit and are completely unrealistic.  I have spent about 12 hours’ worth of research, digging, and reading about many of these wonderful opportunities and here is what I learned:

DO YOUR REASEARCH: Go to the company website, read about the company, how the company works, how payment works, what it takes to actually make money.  Many of these sites look to build their own email list, newsletter list, contact list, etc.  Therefore, as you put in your information, including your address and email, you now end-up on their mail list for everything and anything and without a job. 

TRAINING: If a company really wants you and needs you, there should be some form of a training.  If there is no training, and all website just ask is for your info, there is a pretty good chance there is no real opportunities with that company.  There should also be more of an application process.  Not just asking your personal contact info and magically, you are being considered.  If the company and position are legit, there should be some form of a hiring process and training (an investment in you as their employee).

COMPETITIVNESS: Some opportunities are very competitive such as research assistances, proof readers, editors, freelance writers, etc.  These opportunities take more than just saying to yourself, “I like to write” or “I love to write”.  You have to be a very, very strong writer and editor.  You also have to pass a number of writing and research related test.  Some of these test can take hours to complete.  If you want to head down this path, make sure your writing skills are spotless; that your editing and grammar skills are perfect; and that you have the writing skills needed they are requesting. 

DOES IT REALLY PAY? Well some yes, and some, no.  Or it takes you completing 32 surveys before you make your first $5.  Is it really worth it?  Is it worth your time?  Many side jobs want you to complete so many task before you start accumulating money/payment.  There are many reasons for this; they want to see if you are serious and want to see your quality of work; if you are going to stick with it; and some are just trying to get you do to work without paying you much.  Make sure you research the company, app, job, etc. before you sign-up and see if what others are saying about their experiences with these companies.   

TRANSCIPTIONIST: This is probably one of the most popular, do at home, positions.  However, you do need to be trained and you do need to invest in equipment (such as laptop, software, foot pedal, Wi-Fi, etc.)  I have had to hire a transcriptionist before and it is hard to find a good quality transcriptionist.  If you have the time to commit, the money to invest in the equipment, and are a pretty fast typist, this could be a very good side hustle for you. 

I really would like to find a legit side hustle for 5-10 hours a week, to make $150-$200 a month.  I have applied, tested, researched, read, and repeat.   I will let you know what I find and what works for me.  I assume everyone’s skill set, time, and need to make money, etc. are different.  I will keep you posted on my journey in finding the right side hustle.   


Are We Over Medicating Our Kids?

As I was helping check kids in for a summer camp, I noticed the line for the nurse continued to grow longer and longer.  Even after we were done checking in around 250 kids (ages 9-12) the nurses line was still 30 people deep.

Each one had a zip lock bag with not one, but two or more medications.  In the end, the camp nurse mentioned that almost 50 parents dropped off medications that day and most were wanting their children to have at least 2 different kinds of medications to treat the same illness (for many it was sinus or allergies).  She shook her head and said it was too much.

I am sure if I asked any school nurse, I will get the same response.  I hate giving my kids medication of any kind.  My youngest went through 6 antibiotics as an infant fighting off horrible inner ear infections in 6-8 months.  Each one had different side effects and he became immune to most of them.  Not a good experience.  Permanent ear tubes fixed his inner ear infections for good, not the medications.

Then you have some parents who try to get their children on medication to help them focus better instead of providing discipline and structure (or what we call parenting).  But on the other hand, I don’t think that a majority of parents truly want to medicate their kids but they get frustrated with the situation, can’t find help or support, then turn to medication as a last resort.  I also know there are children who truly need medication to cope with learning and social challenges. 

What I find the most problematic is what are we teaching our children about medication and pill use?  In a day and age where drug and pill addition run rapid, why are so many youths on pills/medication?

I have entertained answers for parents and friends from time to time in the politest way I can.  Most of the time, they smile and say “oh its just allegories” or “he/she needs it to focus” but I don’t think very many parents are thinking of the patterns and examples they are setting for their children in how they consume, use, and possibly abuse medications.  Help me understand why a child with little to no illness, in good health, active and engaged, needs medicated or needs more than 1 medication to function? 

Function: what a word.  Many adults believe they cannot function without medication and their children watch the adults around them popping pills as they are lined up in pill boxes across the kitchen counter.  Then raise children to who then pop pills.  Did you know that it was reported in 2015 that 20.5 million Americans, ages 12 and over, reporting having a substance use disorder (reported by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, 2016 Opioid Addiction Facts and Figures at http://www.asam.org/docs/default-source/advocacy/opioid-addiction-disease-facts-figures.pdf)

 Raising kids in a pill culture is challenging.  Children should be taught to respect and use medication in a responsible way, not abuse it.  If you are a parent who has to take a number of pills for health reasons, talk to your children about what you are taking and why.  Share with them how they can AVIOD being in that same position and share with them the cost of medication (OMG a small fortune for many).  Help them understand the implications and correlation between healthy choices and healthy lifestyles equal (for most) less medical challenges.

Help your children understand the pros/cons of medication use.  I hope that the nurse’s line at camp, someday, will get shorter.