Our Salty Spring Break (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

One Mama Kat prompt this week was “things to do in your town over Spring Break.” My post is not really a list of things to do, but more about the fact that each family member’s spring break will be “salty.”

My son, if it is up to him, will be firmly parked here, engaged in his own kind of as”sault” (sigh):

My daughter will be beachside with friends, planting one of these in the sand and dipping her toes in the “salt” water:

Spiker Beach Beverage Holder-spiker, cup holder, beach cup holder, beach cell phone holder, Spiker Beach Beverage Holder

Spikers from M&M Monogramming (They Ship!)

Hubs and I? At the “salt mines,” every single day.

Image Source: Lugubrious Drollery

Image Source: Lugubrious Drollery

Maybe I need this kind of salt to handle this year’s spring break:

Source: Yelp

Source: Yelp

Mama’s Losin’ It

I Want You To Come For Me (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

This week, Mama Kat gave us, as one of the weekly writing prompt options, the choice to “write a love letter to the object of your affection.” Here’s mine.

You.

I have wanted you for years.

And yet I have not managed to get you to come.

At first I was nice about it, but now I am getting impatient.

I wake up before the sun rises, looking for the key to making you come.

My pulse rate accelerates, my heart pumping faster and faster.

I breathe hard.

I break a sweat.

And then I sweat some more.

If it’s cold out, I don’t even feel the bracing air because I heat up so fast.

I fall asleep dreaming of you.

I tell people it’s going to happen.

I hope you will come, and I won’t keep it a secret when you do.

I fantasize about what will happen when you come.

Why does it take so long?

So many times, I get together with you. Things start off strong.

I think, this will be the day.

I think about you everywhere I go, on roads, on trails, on beaches, in my dreams, even in hotels in strange cities.

I look for you everywhere.

And yet you don’t come.

I know you can come.

I have seen you come for men, women, people much older than me, and children.

I’m pretty sure you have come for babies in strollers and even a dog or two.

I see them all, chilling out with their bottled waters and their bananas, basking in the afterglow, knowing that you came for them.

But not me. I am still chasing you.

This past Saturday, you came for 261 of them in a row.

But not for me.

When, oh when will you finally come to me, finish time of 29:59 or less for a 5K run?

Once you do come, I’ll want to do it again and again.

After a bottled water and a banana.

Love,

Paula

Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.Net/Somchai Som

Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.Net/Somchai Som

Mama’s Losin’ It

How My Kids Got Their Names (A Mama Kat Prompt)

Mama Kat had another set of fabulous prompts this week. I am having to squeeeeeze in a post since I have a freelance gig going on (remember that “laser focus on time management” I promised myself in this post a few weeks back?).

This week, I go with the easiest: Share how you came up with your kids names!

With my daughter, Tenley (now 16), we weren’t sure what we wanted to name her. I had quite a few ideas floating around that played on “Elizabeth” in order to honor my sister-in-law, Ann Elizabeth, who had passed away a few years prior. Eliza Grace was a contender (I had an Aunt Grace who I really loved). Hubs is a big Russian history fan, so he was lobbying for Anastasia. I was concerned that would get shortened to a Stacy or other derivative, robbing the name of its beauty. My love of figure skating led us to name her after Tenley Albright, who has a great story. (She had to overcome polio to resume her figure skating training, won a gold medal at the 1956 Olympics, and went on to be a heart surgeon.) That’s how we ended up with Tenley Anastasia!

With my son, Wayne (now 13), there was no democracy involved. My husband is a Wayne, his dad is a Wayne. Wayne it would be. His middle name is Kevin after a brother who was stillborn a few years before I was born. Wayne’s cousin Atticus used to call him “Wagon” as a youngster — he couldn’t pronounce “Wayne Kevin.” It’s a great family story.

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Easter 2011

Mama’s Losin’ It

Dear Women (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

If you wrote to a Mama Kat prompt last week, you may remember that one of the options was, “Dear Man, (an open letter…offer a word of advice, an issue you’d like to address, or a solution to a problem for the opposite sex).” Her response can be found here. This week, she turned the tables with the following prompt: “Last week I opened the opportunity to write an open letter to men with a  word of advice, an issue you’d like to address, or a solution to a problem. This week? Hand over the reins and let your husband write his OWN open letter to women.”

Here’s the thing. I didn’t figure my husband would be really hip on this idea. Undaunted, I asked a bunch of men I know and crowdsourced tonight’s blog. Their were dogged in their determination to help me out (thanks, guys).

First of all, J.C.W. offered the following take on Kat’s opinion that men should get a lot more adept at saying, “I’m sorry”:

I think that this gal is trying to pin this on anatomy is pure bullcrap.  I’ve seen this same type of thing happen in M/M, F/F and even M/M/F relationships.  It’s called being inconsiderate and not communicating properly.  Nothing more, nothing less and very little to do with penises and vaginas.

And then we have C.S., who in the spirit of our recent presidential campaign has a three-point plan to share with women:

Dear Women,

How’s it going?  I hope you’ve been well.  I know sometimes y’all get frustrated with us.  We can tell.  We usually become aware of your emotional state when you say  “I am frustrated with you”.   Up until that point, however,  we may have not picked up on the clues that you have been sending us.   Sure, some of us sense something is vaguely amiss when your usually eloquent diction has been replaced by monosyllabic one-word sentences accompanied by the vigorous movement of common household objects.  But for most of us, that is beyond our sensory perception.  I would like to offer some advice that may benefit both of us.  If you are frustrated with us, tell us.  But as you already know, we are masters of defense.  Any reason for your frustration can be met with quick and retaliatory counter-arguments.  But if we are doing something that’s bothering you, it’s important to tell us.  But it’s also important how you tell us. Specifically, you need to slip past the defenses. May I provide a three-step strategy?

1) Get our attention.  And please make sure we are paying attention when you are ready to talk.  As you know, your frustration will only double if you start to say something important, and we are only half listening.  Say something direct like “I would like to talk to you about something.  Can you put down your smartphone/remote/newspaper/ penis and listen?”.   See what happened in those sentences?  You expressed a need AND you provided some helpful action steps we can follow.  We like action steps.

2) Disarm us, by either saying something nice or by assuring us that we are not going to be having a BIG DISCUSSION.  Remember, you have just announced that you wanted to talk.  Years of experience has taught us that when you want “to talk” it’s not to say “I think you’re simply wonderful”.  The mere request to talk already has us at yellow alert.  Starting by saying something nice, or assuring us that this isn’t something big (assuming that it is not) will lessen the likelihood that we will either send troops to the walls to guard the castle or pull up the drawbridge.

3) Phrase your frustration in how it makes you feel.  So instead of saying “You forgot to take the garbage out again for the third week in a row and I had to rush it out to the street this morning and while I did it I was attacked by a pack of wild dogs”, you could phrase it like, “Sometimes when you forget to take out the trash, it makes me feel a bit sad.  I feels like you’re not thinking about me or that other things are more important than our shared responsibilities around our house.  Maybe you could work harder to remember?  Or put a reminder in your smartphone? Then I wouldn’t have to go to thewild dogs emergency room to get rabies shots, which kinda hurt”.   See the first sentence?  It’s an accusation. It’s certainly accurate, but it’s an accusation – and it will increase the likelihood of a counter-response, such as an excuse, or a counter-accusation.   The second set of sentences focuses the discussion on your feelings.  Trust us, we don’t want you to be sad!  We don’t want to be the source of this sadness!  You also give us an “out” in this exchange.  We can easily say “I’m sorry. I’ll work harder at remembering”.  Action steps are also nice at this point as well.

So, to summarize (which is always good when talking to us).    Get our Attention.  Disarm us. Phrase in feelings.  Have you ever heard of Hanlin’s Razor?  Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. This really applies when dealing with us.  If the choice is between “He’s being a dick” and “He’s just not thinking”, I urge you to go with the latter.  Our ability to not think is one of our greatest skills – but it can get us into trouble at times.  Get our attention, keep our defenses down, and express yourself.  It will all work out.  And if it doesn’t, you now know the location of a pack of wild dogs in your neighborhood.  You can nickname them “Plan B”.

Sincerely

Men

And lastly, I have to thank my 13 year old for being more responsive than my husband (hey, I just call it like I see it) with this gem, born (no doubt) out of the current relationship situation at his favorite hangout, Skate World:

xtra cropped screen

I have written before about my strong belief in the importance of male/female friendships. I guess my son didn’t have a whole lot of choice but I thank J.C.W. and C.S. for their perspective and taking the time to humor me and write for my blog. Also for setting the record (2) for number of time “penis” has been written in one of my blog posts. What a distinction!

Mama’s Losin’ It

Books From My Perspective (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

What are you reading?

Thank you, Mama Kat for yet another week that includes a prompt I can write to somewhat easily. Maybe I’m guilty of shirking from a challenge but I am finding challenges in plenty of other areas of my life, so I’ll take a softball when it’s thrown to me  (such as “What are you reading?”).

It may be an easy question to answer, but it’s not simple because I have several books going at one time and one I am looking forward to at least as much as the ones I am reading now so it is going to get a shout-out as well!

What I Am Reading On Paper

I am reading an Advance Reader’s Edition of True Believers: A Novel by Kurt Andersen.

true believers best

Thank you, Random House, for the Advance Reader’s Editions that randomly pop into my mailbox. These always go to the top of my reading list because I want to return your generosity with a blog mention. I am moving so slowly through True Believers, however, that I will probably be the most extreme outlier in your marketing plan! This book follows protagonist Karen Hollander through her childhood filled with James Bond-esque outings with her peers, through a trajectory that briefly sees her considered for an appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court, to the process of writing her memoir, which results in more than one coming-to-terms moment with old truths, fragile trusts, and a perspective that has been turned inside out. I am enjoying the read. I guess the good thing about me taking so darn long is that the book and its author get a mention from me on Facebook and Twitter every Friday when I share my “Friday Reads.” Maybe that exposure counts for something!

What I Am Listening To on CD

I am listening to The 6th Target by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro.

Sixth TargetEver since I began driving my father-in-law’s car last October after his stroke, I lost my ability to listen to iPod books in the car (because I don’t have an iPod adapter in this car), so I have had to go relatively “old school” and listen to cd’s. I got this one from PaperbackSwap. This is (I believe), number six in the “Women’s Murder Club” series. In this book, Detective Lindsay Boxer searches for a criminal who opened fire on unsuspecting civilians while pursuing a series of kidnappings of wealthy young children also. It is an enjoyable read but it isn’t a book that will end up on my “favorites” list. I did note on the website, however, that there is a Women’s Murder Club “Murdertini”:

  • 4 ounces Ketel One vodka
  • 1/2 ounce triple sec or flavored orange liqueur
  • 2 ounces freshly squeezed blood orange juice
  • 2 blood orange slices
  • Dash of orange bitters
Directions

Combine all ingredients in a martini shaker except the orange slices with a good amount of ice. Shake for a few seconds, then strain the the drink into a martini glass. Garnish with the orange slices. (Optional) Dampen the martini glass rim and dip lightly in white sugar.

Maybe the mystery of why I haven’t enjoyed this book all that much lies in the fact that I have been driving around sober. Maybe I should whip up a murdertini and relax with the tome at home. I wonder what Detective Lindsay Boxer would conclude.

What I Am Listening To On My iPod

This one, folks, this one is a good read!!! On my iPod I am listening to Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.

steve jobs

Due to the aforementioned car flipflop that has occurred in our family, I don’t get to listen to  books on my  iPod as much as I used to. With the exception of the day I got very lost on the Alford Greenway and heard the first couple of hours of this book, the rest has come in smaller sips. And that’s okay.

I could go on and on and on about why I find this book fascinating but I have already made this “simple” blog quite long so I will try to condense. People who defy naysayers fascinate me. People who do things differently fascinate me.  I keep wrestling in my mind with Jobs’s utter devotion to design elements and how/when/why he became a ruthless businessperson. I can’t get over the number of times he cries to get his way. That said, I am listening to how he cried (repeatedly, publicly, inappropriately) to get his way while I am listening to the story on an iPod and measuring the miles I am walking or running on an iPhone.  Steve Jobs also reminds me of someone I worked for once who is brilliant, volatile, unyielding, and in retrospect taught me more than anyone else ever has.

What I Will Be Reading Soon

Mark Klempner recently mentioned on Facebook that when his book, The Heart Has Reasons, was released in paperback, the reviews on Amazon did not follow from the hardcover version to the paperback product page. He was looking for reviewers. I couldn’t respond fast enough.

heart has reasons

I first started an email correspondence with Mark when my daughter was participating in our local Holocaust Essay Contest and I was poking around for possible resources that she might learn from.  I read an excerpt of the book and talked to Mark about possibly being an interviewee for Tenley. That didn’t work out because she took her essay a different direction, but he and I maintained an email and Facebook friendship. I am so grateful to authors who interact with us humble readers, and Mark is one of the best. I am looking forward to reading the whole book and adding my praise to the Amazon page; I know it will deserve the kudos.

What I Am Editing

I am editing a book by a local author that has a really unique concept. It is geared to 10-13 year olds and UP (no limit). In the book, a young girl “becomes” Paul Revere’s horse and leads the reader through the development of the Declaration of Independence in a creative and attention-binding way. I am excited to work with this author even though accepting another editing project means having to be even more laser-focused about time management.

In closing, this sums up perfectly why I read so many books and can’t really resist using my editing skills to help others with theirs:

Source: "I Acknowledge Beauty Exists"

Source: “I Acknowledge Beauty Exists”

Mama’s Losin’ It

Trust (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

The Mama Kat writing prompts this week are all options that play on the trendy theme this year of “words for the year.” Yes, I have hopped on the “word for the year” train as well, with mine (direction).

direction arrow

This week, Kat asked us to pick one of five “words for the year” and write to that prompt. One option is “trust,” inspired by Queen of Chaos.

They say once you pick your word of the year, if you are truly focusing your energies on it, that you will start seeing it everywhere (check out  the hand dryer in the bathroom, for example).

power arrow

When I think about focusing on “direction,” I have to admit the person pulling the trust rug out from my own feet is …… me.  In failing to trust my instincts, my passions, and my inner voice, I have foundered in ways professional, personal, and spiritual.

Which makes the directional arrow less straightforward.

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image23881039

In her post that was the inspiration for this writing prompt, “Queen of Chaos” wrote, “It’s 2013 and I want to jump in and say, this year will be different!”

I am pretty sure that a different 2013 for me will involve seeking a different direction of some kind, but that route is going to involve a round trip to the heart of the issue: self trust.

Mama’s Losin’ It

From Magic Mike To The Bottom of The Barrel: My 2012 Favorites (A Mama Kat Prompt)

After a long drought, I just may make it to two weeks in a row with Mama Kat prompts. She made it easy (and irresistible) this week via a template: 2012 Favorites (inspired by MomSmack)!

Here goes.

Favorite 2012 Movie:  The thing is, as much as I love movies, I don’t make it to them very often.  To start things off on an unpredictable roll, let’s go with the one that was the most funMagic Mike!

magic mike

Favorite Album: Gosh, I haven’t bought an album, on vinyl or digital, so I’ll have to pass on that one!

Favorite Song:  The last (and cooldown) song on my running playlist is “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz. Something about this song reminds me of my daughter. It’s the line, “How old is your soul?” I love it.

Favorite Tweeter. There is one person I look for every day on Twitter. I know that what I will find will entertain, encourage, or do a little of both. So unless you’re a Lara Spencer fan, just trust me on this and follow @washingtina. She rocks.

Favorite Blog. How, oh how in a world chock full of incredible bloggers do I answer this one? I think I’ll reward Diary of a Mom for all of those super-early wakeups that she does in order to write for us (I know she’ll say she does it for herself too but……) about parenting, life, autism, and being true to yourself.

Favorite TV Show. Holy heck I am feeling shallow here with the Magic Mike intro and the reveal of my favorite tv show. I love My Fair Wedding with David Tutera. I love it most at 2 a.m. when I’m supposed to be sleeping and I am drifting off to the sound of him rescuing some poor inept bride from her bargain gown and putting her into the perfect couture gown; when he’s blowing off the industrial hall venue and migrating everyone to an opulent seaside setting. I love it when he makes that bride’s dream “his” for the duration and truly invests himself in the process.

Favorite Instagramer. This is a challenge because I just got on Instagram. That said, one instagramer I followed on Facebook before I had it as an app is “tifthegirl.” I met Tiffany when her husband was studying film at Florida State, and her picture-a-day for a year project that was posted to Facebook never failed to capture my attention.

Favorite Moment. Crossing the finish line of the Boston 13.1 race in September as part of the Autism Speaks team.

AS finish

Favorite conference. I went to an interesting conference in Baltimore in June related to Health Care Quality. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that one of the highlights was my extracurricular non-conference activity of getting together super early with my friend and PRS Fit teammate Ann Brennan. What a treat!

PaulaAnn

Favorite viral video. Here’s the thing. I am a huge fan of Bottom of the Barrel Comedy on Youtube and they’ve done plenty of viral videos (I met many BOTB members when they were FSU Film students). But a lot of them may not be appropriate for a mom audience. For that reason I am embedding one that is technically not from 2012 but is the best I can do for a PG13 audience. Little Chef has had over 343,000 views:

So there you have it. Magic Mike, Wedding Overkill, Kids Running Amok in Kitchens. Maybe it’s a good thing my word for 2013 is direction.

Mama’s Losin’ It

2012 => 2013 (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

2012 => 2013 (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

I have fallen out of the habit of responding to Mama Kat prompts. Surprisingly, no search party or anything was sent to make sure I had not fallen into blogging oblivion. Oh well. Her prompts this week are irresistible and, plus, I have already written posts that sort of respond to them. Easy peasy.

For instance, number 1:  Instead of a resolution, some people choose a theme word to live by for the year. Choose a word for 2013 and tell us why you chose it. I didn’t know I even had a word until I went to write a “closing out 2012” post last night. A few hundred words later, I did have a worddirection. You can read about it here.

Number 2 is:  Share any blogging tips you picked up in 2012. I picked this one up before 2012, but the best piece of advice I was given was from Scott Ginsberg, The Nametag Guy. He advised me to “make a date with the page.” Pick a periodicity: twice a week, weekly, every 2nd and 4th Tuesday, every month. Write then, whether you feel like it or not. I don’t think I have missed a Sunday blog in about three years. In addition, I finally switched from BlogSpot to WordPress. That was a long overdue move and it has definitely had benefits.

Number 3 is:   Do you “favorite” tweets you love? Share your favorite tweets from 2012. I do favorite tweets. I have finally given in to favoriting tweets to sort of “like” them as I would on Facebook. That means I do a lot more favoriting than I used to. But my all time favorite is the sequence below. Not to give him a big head or anything, but I think our local meteorologist, Sean Parker, rocks and I always try to give him a Twitter shout-out. So when he tweeted about a local traffic situation only miles away from me, I said, “I’ll never get this kind of personalized news from @samchampion.” (And it’s important to note that I am a HUGE Sam fan; I was just trying to point out the benefits of local news presence.) As you can see below, Sam took exception to that:

2012 => 2013 (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

And I have been happy ever since. 🙂

Prompt #4 was: “Resolutions. Love’em? Hate’em? Tell us why. Make one?  Talk about your resolutions or goals for 2013.” Mainly, I still want to achieve my 2012 (and 2011…and 2010) goal of running a 5K in less than 30 minutes. This will be the year.

Lastly, prompt #5 was:  Share your top 10 favorite quotes from your kids in 2012. I have teenagers, so I got nothin’ here. Except this gem that was tweeted by my 16 year old daughter this fall. I can’t find the actual tweet, and she may not know I saw it, but I did. Oh yes I did. And memorized it:

“My parents made me the awkward child I am today, and I don’t know if I can ever forgive them. #SorryNotSorry”

These are the kinds of tweets that could make Sean and/or Sam predict stormy weather ahead……….

 2012 => 2013 (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

Crazy Sweet (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

This week, Mama Kat prompt #4 instructed us to do this:

4.) Dig out your high school yearbook and share a message a friend wrote that stands out to you.

I didn’t have many signatures in my Senior Year book, so I pulled out my Sophomore Year book as a backup in hopes of finding more material.

In general, besides the hair/clothing flashbacks from the early 80’s that this project gave me, I determined that the two adjectives most used in reference to me were a) crazy and b) sweet. Yeah.

Before getting to the sweet/crazy combo, here’s the glibbest and perhaps arguably most true:

“I really can’t flatter you because you don’t have anything to praise.”* Lien

[Note – in keeping with school spirit, I have used the school colors for highlights – gold for sweet and purple for crazy.]

“You are a very nice and sweet girl. ……”The Bee Gee’s and Senior 81 are Forever #1″ Laura

“It’s been nice knowing [you] this year in 4th period your one crazy girl and I knew you’ll get what you want in life because you’ll never stop till you do Good luck with Prince Charles.” Leslie (Prince Charles??? Yikes)

“Well the year is almost over and its been really great. I’m so glad we finally go to know each other. You’re a real sweet and crazy girl. Stay that way. Best of luck in everything you do. May God richly bless your life. Remember to always stay close to him and you’ll do just fine. Behave yourself.” Deneen

“Life wouldn’t be complete without you. Stay sweet….” Marcie

You seem like a very nice and sweet girl. The best of luck in life and with that special guy. Anita

Stay sweet and pretty. Sharon

Stay sweet and never change. Paula

Take it easy over the summer and don’t get in trouble (ha ha). Mary S (I know it doesn’t specifically say “crazy” but “get in trouble” seems close enough!)

I know you thought I was CRAZY. Nita (She was referring to herself as crazy but we were best friends so it is close enough for blogging purposes!)

To a very sweet and pretty girl. Sharon (Same Sharon as above – I got two signatures from her!)

And this one, from my “vocational ed/business” teacher (after my sophomore year) is just mystifying:

“What a joy to have you in my class,” … “Best wishes and much success and happiness,” ….. “wish you would permit me to teach you moreMrs. Adicks This is such a mystery to me because I really liked these business classes — can’t remember what gave her the impression that I didn’t want to learn more.

I know you’ll probably forget me once you graduate. Eric

Well, Eric, truth is I don’t think we ever talked again after high school. But call me next time you’re in Tallahassee and I will try to show you a sweet and crazy time!

*This is an excerpt from a longer message. Of course Lien was kidding. That’s why she followed that sentence up with this: (I hope you’re not taking me serious – see I’m smiling :-))

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Intercept the Mailman? (A Mama Kat Writing Post)

This post is based on the following Mama Kat prompt:

Write a post about an argument you recently had with someone from the moment of conflict to the moment of resolution in 15 lines or less. 
Barb (my mother in law, who is blind (a fact that matters for this story)): 

Suzette [a relative who was helping out] accidentally requested the order be shipped to 721 Roseberry Street instead of 771.

When she realized the mistake and called Lands End, they said there was nothing we could do…………..except try to intercept the postal deliverer and tell them to deliver the package to us when it arrived.

Me:

Wait a minute, Lands End, home of “Guranteed. Period.  ©” said the only option was to intercept the mailman?

They want a 77 year old blind lady to stand out on the street, catch the mailman, and explain all this?

Why didn’t they just ship an order to the correct address?

Barb:

I don’t know. Can you see what you can do?

Me:

Tweet to Lands End – “I have a consumer issue and need help.” [no response received]


Email to Lands End – [it would take more than 15 lines to replicate the email]. The short version was, “why can’t you just ship a duplicate order to the right address instead of asking the blind lady to stand outside at the mailbox and try to intercept the mailman?

Response from Lands End – a generic “email received” stating it could take 2 business days for a response.

Instant Message Attempts #1 and #2 to Lands End – the representative and I introduce ourselves to one another, after which I am cut off (which may have been my browser).

Lands End:

Email response back (received within an hour of being sent!), “Well, she can order a new one and we’ll send it.”

Me:

Why can’t you go ahead and send the duplicate order? When and if she receives the original order, we will make sure you get it back.

Lands End:
We don’t have the new address so we can’t send it out.

Me:

It is 771 Roseberry Street. Can you please resend it?

Lands End:

[Via Email] We are sorry to hear you did not receive your original order. A new one will arrive within 5 to 7 days.

Me:

[Tweet] – Kudos to @LandsEnd for great customer service.

And that, my friends, is the end (the Lands End) of the story! The package arrived as promised within 3 days. Who knows where the original package ended up?

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