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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Welcome to the Neighborhood

The house across the street has been for sale for a few months. Before that it was rented by a sweet pair of newlyweds I met exactly one time. Before that a beautiful family lived there with their precious son who was Elijah's age and his younger brother who learned to laugh and walk there. Before that it was home to one of my very first grown-up friends Caroline.

We've lived here for quite a while now. 11 years ago we moved in wide-eyed and newly married and almost entirely without friends. That's one thing we learned in premarital counseling, we didn't have any mutual friends and it was something we needed. So we prayed for friends. We prayed for friends at the same season of life who would walk with us and laugh with us and encourage us.

Within months Caroline & Kyle moved in across the street. I decided I loved them instantly and we invited them into our small group and our lives with joy. Then Jack & Amy moved in around the corner and then Robyn & David. Then we became friends with Tara & Doug and Perri & Michael moved in and finally Annie & Justin. It's almost embarrassing to type out all of those names. God has answered our prayer for friendship ten times over in this tiny circle of a neighborhood.

So when the house across the street went up for sale I started praying again. But instead of praying for a friend to replace Caroline and Annie and Perri who have all moved away, I prayed for an opportunity. An opportunity to love whoever moved in and the courage to do so even if it was outside of my comfort zone.  Praying for the opportunity to be more than just the neighbor across the street whose dog occasionally (often) wanders through their yard to relieve herself. Praying because when you have four small children and you homeschool all day long you don't see many people who live farther away than across the street.

Yesterday it looked like the moving trucks were finally gone for good. So I baked a plate of my favorite cookies and walked them across the street. Cutting through the grass I thought of all the times I had walked up that porch for coffee with Caroline, the times my kids had run through that yard chasing their friends. I knocked on the door and when a tiny old woman pushed it open I reached in to hand her the cookies and timidly offered up in my best Spanish accent, "Bienvenido al barrio."

Welcome to the Neighborhood Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 2 dozen good sized cookies

1/2 cup softened butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs 
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups oats
1 cup chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. 
In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars together until creamy. Add eggs & vanilla, beat well. 
Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt together in a small bowl and then add to wet ingredients. 
Add oats and chocolate chips, stirring in by hand. 

Drop by rounded spoonful onto a Silpat lined baking sheet. Bake 9-11 minutes or until edges have just begun to brown. 


Friday, June 24, 2016

What Do Snapchat, The Popcast and Coca-Cola Have In Common?

Things I'm loving this week, that's what.

I have been drinking Cokes lately. Like a teenage boy, Not Diet Cokes, but honest to goodness sugar-laden delicious Coca-Cola. I stopped drinking soda in general a few years ago, but every now and then I succumb and grab a Diet Coke or a DDP at a restaurant. But this week the sleeve of Cokes that we keep on hand for BJ has been BECKONING from the fridge. Probably something to do with the 95+ degree days we've been having. I'm blatantly ignoring the fact that I'm an almost 34 year old in the middle of bathing suit season and indulging daily. There are only 3 left so the temptation will be gone by Monday.

I get it. I'm the last one to this party. All the teens and twenty-somethings have been snap chattering for years. But I'm approaching 34 and I figure I'll be late to all future technology parties from here on out. I'm comfortable with that.

I got Snapchat years and years ago and abandoned it quickly because it just seemed like pointless sexting app. And then BJ started using it a lot last year (not to sext, to take pictures of himself skateboarding) and I would steal his phone just to watch his Story at the end of the day. I finally figured I should just get it on my phone. And y'all - it's so much fun. On Instagram you have to be perfect, on Facebook you need to at least be interesting but on Snapchat you can just BE.

Things you missed if you're not following me on Snapchat this week: no make-up Katie, lip-syncing Katie and bathing suit wearing Katie. Because none of those things need to live forever in infamy on the internet. I'm @leipprandt on there if you want to add me.

The Popcast
If y'all haven't discovered this podcast yet, you're in for a treat. Knox and Jamie are hilarious. It's like listening to your favorite radio DJs but without having to put up with commercials and music you don't like.

Favorite exchange from this week's show:

Knox: Listen, there's two kinds of people in the world. You ready? 
Jamie: Ready.
Knox: There's people who, if they're running, and they get to an intersection where they have to wait, they stop and wait. Or, there's the kind of people who will run in place, like an animal. You're one of these two people. You might not run, but philosophically you abide by one of those two things.  

I mean this is truth right? Which kind of person are you? Which kind of person am I? Let's please discuss in the comments.

A Walk in the Woods
Have you seen it? It's the movie adaptation of Bill Bryson's hilarious book of the same name about hiking the Appalachian Trail late in life. (I realize I've used hilarious twice now in one blog post and have lost all credibility with you.) BJ and I watched it last night and we're now plotting when exactly is the right time to take our crew of six on the six-month trek. I figure when Jude is 15 and Eli is 20 we could pull it off. Can you imagine? Four teenagers totally removed from technology and friends for that long in the woods? If reality TV is still a thing in 2029, look for us. Also, it's free on Amazon Prime, so click on that link above if you're a member and now you have plans for tonight. You're welcome.

Stripping furniture
BJ and I are trying to make progress on our bedroom redesign while the three big kids are up in Michigan and re-finishing that dresser there (in the BEFORE picture...have we talked about my fear of color early on in our marriage? Everything in our house- except this dresser -was brown) is part of our master plan. Today I dragged it out to the garage and used paint stripper for the first time ever. Life changing. In 30 minutes I scraped the old paint off and was rewarded with gorgeous raw wood peeking out at me. Instant gratification is my jam when it comes to DIY projects.

Daring Greatly
More evidence that I need to pick up on the things everyone is doing sooner. I have been ignoring Brene Brown's supposed brilliance for years solely because everyone is fawning over her books. I figured she had enough fans. But then I found a copy of Daring Greatly at the thrift store (along with Kisses from Katie and The Star Wars LEGO Visual Dictionary) last week and dug in. SO GOOD.

Diaper Bum
It's just me and this little man for another eight days. He's my last baby in diapers and I'm dying over his chunky thighs. Since it's 98 degrees in the shade anyway I've decided he doesn't need to wear pants for the rest of the summer.

What have you been loving this week? Other good reads, podcasts, sugar-laden beverages I need in my life? Spill the beans in the comments. Happy FRIDAY!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Baptism is Weird (and why we practice it as Christians)

Our oldest son, Elijah, was baptized recently. Baptism is a particularly Christian tradition. The baptism of Jesus is recorded in all four biblical accounts of his life and in the book of Matthew, Jesus commands his followers to be baptized as well.

But let's be honest - baptism is kind of weird. Many Christians and non-Christians alike don't quite get it. Why is it done? What does it even mean?

Baptism is an outward symbol of an inner change. It's a way to tell somebody, or a lot of somebodies, about something radical that's happened to you. Perhaps like getting a tattoo or wearing a significant piece of jewelry following a major life event. We don't believe baptism causes a change in us, it's simply a way to shout from the rooftop (or the river as it were) that something good has happened.

Here's the good thing that happened: the person getting baptized has realized something is broken in their lives and they are totally incapable of doing anything about it. They have heard who Jesus is and decided to place their trust in what he did (his death and resurrection) to fix their brokenness. Being submerged in the water symbolizes dying to your life as a sinner, and coming back out of the water symbolizes acceptance of your new path as a Christ-follower.

If you're over 25 (heck if you're over 5) you've probably experienced a feeling of brokenness in your life at times. I feel this way at the end of many long days with the kids. I start the day out wanting to be patient - I want to respond calmly to my 2 year old's tantrum, but I snap at him instead. I wake up in the morning fully intending to love my husband well, but then my careless words cut him deeply. On so many days I miss the mark. I just can't consistently do the things I know I should be doing. In the Christian world, we call this pattern of wrong behavior 'sin'. And once we recognize the seriousness of the problem, that our lives are full of brokenness, then we begin looking for a solution.

Which brings us back to Jesus - Christians believe that around 4 A.D. a God-man named Jesus was born. Which sounds insane, I get it. We believe a fairy tale that we are hopelessly lost and a hero has come to rescue us. And not just any hero, but the son of God. This is right up there with Hercules and Zeus, right?

Except for this stubborn fact: the God-man died. He didn't just die, he was executed by the prevailing world power of the day, the Roman Empire. My kids and I spent an entire semester studying the Roman Empire this year and if anything is undisputed about Roman society it's this: they were not half-assers. Building roads? You can still walk on Roman roads today. Setting up a system of government? The U.S. Capitol building shows clearly that we modeled our government on theirs over a thousand years later. Executing people? They were unparalleled in that arena as well. People executed by the Roman government stayed dead.

The great rescuer, the God-man Jesus, was brutally crucified. Which should have been the end of the story. Except it wasn't.

A rumor began just a few days later that Jesus was alive. That yes, he had suffocated, had been stabbed for good measure and taken lifeless off a cross. His body was placed in a tomb and the tomb guarded by Roman soldiers and yet, three days after the fact, people claimed to have seen him. To have had breakfast with him. To have touched his hands and hugged his neck.

This troublesome rumor should have been squashed right away. Jesus was an enemy of the state. His followers were rabble-rousers and neither the local Jewish leaders in Jerusalem or the occupying Romans wanted to deal with the threat of rebellion from some small Jewish faction. It should have been easy to find a dead body and call the bluff of the Jesus freaks.

But that never happened. Instead, the friends of Jesus, his disciples, began carrying this message, that Jesus WAS God and he HAD RISEN from the dead, out from Jerusalem and into the surrounding provinces and countries. Incredibly, the conviction of Jesus' disciples and their transformation from scared super fans to passionate preachers began to convert Jews, Romans and other first century populations into Jesus-followers.

People began to believe that if this man rose from the dead, than maybe what He claimed was true: that He was the son of God, that he had authority over death and life, and that he could right their wrongs. His death could cancel out the debt they owed God.

In a nutshell, that's what Elijah believes. That's what I believe and what BJ believes and what we think is the most important truth to teach our kids as we raise them.

You can't make things right on your own. Neither can Mom or Dad. But God loved humanity enough to send us a Rescuer. And that Rescuer came to face our consequences, to die for us. And if you believe that such an amazing thing is true....that's the most important thing you know. And that's worth telling somebody.

Elijah Leipprandt from Buckhead UpStreet on Vimeo.

The church we attend throws a big party for kids who decide to be baptized. We are forever grateful for the way Buckhead Church and specifically the staff and volunteers of Waumba Land and Upstreet  have partnered with us as we pour into our kids. Elijah's baptism was a party we'll remember for a long time to come.

 Elijah's beautiful and dedicated small group leader Afton -
who has sat in a circle with him for YEARS. 
 The whole family celebrating this kid's good news
It's okay to be silly with Jesus, the author and perfecter of both our faith and our funny. Amen.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

How Do I Entertain My One Year Old All Day Long? (Part 2)

If you missed Part One in this series, head here first to read that post about Being Productive and making time for Creative Play. To be clear, this series is specifically about those first two years of staying at home when you have ONE very small child with you all day long. 

When almost everything you do on Monday needs to be done again on Tuesday and then again on Wednesday, you start to feel like you're running with a parachute on your back. Your life is Groundhog Day and you're Bill Murray, "It's gonna be cold, it's gonna be grey and it's gonna last for the rest of your life." Pretty soon you're ready to get in your car and drive off - anywhere - to do something -anything- that reminds you who you were before Disney and diapers became your to-do list.

As a stay-at-home mom, it often feels like the entire day boils down to what fun thing I did and if there's something other than frozen pizza for dinner. Did we go to the park? A+ in Motherhood! We stayed at home and watched Mickey while catching up on laundry and bills? Well I can always try harder tomorrow.

To avoid the feeling that my identity and worth are wrapped up in what I accomplish each day (which  is often nothing beyond keeping my children alive and fed) I try to incorporate two things into my routine that have nothing to do with my role as a mom - connecting with community and recharging with quiet. These are the mom-equivalent of putting your own oxygen mask on before assisting another.

Unless you are fortunate enough to live near other women staying at home with a child the same age as yours, connecting with your community doesn't happen spontaneously during the day. Social media makes us feel like we're connected to hundreds of friends and family, when in fact we're settling for two dimensional picture of what could be a 3D experience. Seeing pictures of your best friend's baby is nothing like hearing her tell you the birth story. Posting a picture of your little guy and reading the sweet comments doesn't fill the same hole that writing to your grandmother would. I adore social media (hello, I'm a blogger) but I can't fill the need I have for authentic relationships solely by scrolling through Instagram.

I love scheduling face-to-face connections into my weekly routine so I don't have to think about it. A few avenues I've found for connection throughout the years of staying at home are:
  • Signing up for a Bible study that provides childcare during the day
  • Participating in my local MOPS group (Mothers of pre-schoolers)
  • Attending the same group exercise class at the gym regularly 
  • Volunteering at a nursing home - cannot tell you how much joy a baby brings to this place!
  • Mentoring high schoolers through the local church
  • Becoming involved in a small group with other couples at the same stage of life in the evening
  • Going out for coffee with a girlfriend after the kids are in bed
When I'm able to take off my mommy cape and enjoy something other than parenting a few times a week, I have more energy and excitement when I re-connect with the kids. On days I don't have anything scheduled, I reach outside my little world by emailing an old friend, writing a letter to a grandparent or calling my sister, my mom or a girlfriend. Connection doesn't necessarily require a babysitter but it does require intentionality.

After the laundry is put away, the blocks have been stacked and toppled, the treadmill has been conquered, lunch has been eaten and The Hungry Caterpillar has been read and re-read and then read again - my favorite part of the day arrives. Quiet Time. Year after year, I make it through the long mornings of motherhood knowing this sacred time awaits when the clock strikes 2pm.

If you have a one year old at home, this is when they take a nap - but the genius of Quiet Time is that it never has to end. I currently have a 7 year old, 5 year old, 4 year old and 22 month old and our home is (relatively) quiet each day from 2 to 4pm while the littlest one naps. My older kids read books, play with Legos, color or do puzzles. Occasionally I'll let them watch a movie (especially in the summer when all rules go out the window) but for the most part it's a time for them to be alone - a rarity in our full house- and to recharge. I plan on keeping Quiet Time around until they are teenagers and start taking naps again.

Quiet Time is when I engage my heart and my soul in a meaningful, non-mommy way. This blog was born because my first child napped a solid four to five hours each day at home in his crib. It was awesome - and boring. Writing began as a way to pass the time and connect with the outside world, and now it's one way I recharge and connect to my own soul. Maybe for you recharging looks like doing yoga or reading a book. Find something that energizes you during that brief quiet window each day. Maybe that's when you call a friend or write a letter or take your own nap. (If you're pregnant or have a newborn, please, just take a nap.) Maybe it's when you work on your side business or sew. On some days quiet time is simply me sitting outside in the driveway with a Diet Coke and a blank look on my face. The point is I use this time to do something that fills me up, not drains me. When your precious little one wakes in the afternoon, you've got to be energized and ready - they don't call 4-7pm the witching hours for nothing. 

Give them an engaged mom, who knows that she has been productive with her day, who has filled her heart and soul with the connection of community and has recharged in the quiet, a mom who is ready to play with and love on them with the best she has to give until bedtime. When I schedule these four things into each day, I'm amazed at how much peace I have with this stage of motherhood and how free I feel to be present with the amazing kids I get to raise.

Are you currently making community connection and time to recharge a priority in your daily routine? Is there anything I've missed that's an essential to surviving your stay-at-home life with a little? 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Sorry Y'all, But Going to the Pool Sucks

I hate taking my kids to the pool. As in, I. Hate. It. I know this makes me a terrible mother. Summertime is supposed to be about flip flops and chlorine and the faint whiff of sunscreen. I know. I KNOW.  But if you have very young kids or have seen someone at the pool with toddlers, you must have a vague awareness that the effort required by a mother to get to the pool is not in any way, shape or form equivalent to the pleasure received from being at the pool.

All around me moms are proclaiming the glories of summer. Breathlessly anticipating time at the pool or God forbid, a trip to the beach.  What do these ladies know that I don't? I'm sorry y'all, but going to the pool sucks. Don't even get me started on the beach. the rest of this post over at today! 

(Yes it's my very first time being published there and I'm excited. Please click the link above to visit the site, it would mean so much. Also, for bonus points, leave an encouraging comment on their site. "This writer is amazing." "I have never read finer prose in my life." "This article changed my life for the better."  You know, something like that.) 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

How Do I Entertain My One Year Old All Day Long?

In the past week two friends have asked me, "how do I keep my one year old happy and entertained all day every day at home?" If you don't speak Mom, this question can be re-worded as a simple statement: "HELP. I am simultaneously bored, lonely and overwhelmed every day."

My first thought was, "Oh friend. Bring over a bottle of wine and let's talk... because you are in the thick of it.I had to take a minute to put myself in their shoes. It seems like an eternity ago I spent a summer with a one year old. At the time I was pregnant with my daughter. I wrote these words toward the end of that hard season. It was long and lonely, and something about the unrelenting heat in Georgia and the crazy logistics involved in simply leaving the house with a kid that age makes it seem even longer. I laugh now when I read the text exchanges that used to happen between 5pm and 7pm with my long-working husband, but back then I assure you it was not funny

This gig is HARD.  And it's actually harder when you only have one young kid than when you're surrounded by little ones as I am. So the first thing I told them was this: give yourself a break. It feels hard because it IS hard. This is hard and holy work mama. 

And the second thing I said was, you need a schedule.  By schedule I don't mean an hourly breakdown of Pinterest-approved toddler activities for your one-year old. A schedule is just a flexible structure to keep you from going stir crazy on long days with a little one. I have four simple things that I schedule into every. single. day.  
  • Creatively PLAYING
  • CONNECTING with Community
  • Recharging with QUIET
If I can have a little bit of each of these things in my day, it helps me ensure I'm checking off all some important "must-dos" around the house while being reminded there is a world beyond the walls of this home. Today let's dive into the first two things: being Productive and making time to Play. I've got a second post coming next week about Connecting with community and recharging with Quiet - because I know you weren't looking to read a novel today.

When I was a new mom I felt guilty about being productive around the home while my baby was awake. I thought I needed to be engaging this little human and filling his world with wonder at all times. We would play blocks (time spent: 45 seconds) zoom cars on the carpet (2 minutes) take a walk outside (12 minutes) come in and read books (7 minutes) over and over again. I was exhausted AND bored trying to fill up hour-long blocks of time with minutes' worth of activities. And the whole time I was playing halfheartedly because I knew the only time I would have to myself that day (nap time) would be spent cleaning up the mess we were having "so much fun!" making.

So what does it actually look like to find time to creatively play and to be productive with your one year old each day?

I bet you could look up from your screen and see 15 different ways you could get productive around your home right now. In the face of so many options, I write down two or three important things that need doing (almost always related to food, clothing or shelter) and make those my priority for the day. I literally write down, "Make Dinner" on my list EVERY DAY. If I didn't, I would look up at 5:30pm and wonder who the crap was going to bring us food that night.

When I had a one year old who napped twice a day, I would use the morning nap for household chores and I reserved the afternoon nap to engage my heart and my soul in a meaningful, non-mommy way. Whatever didn't get done in the morning or couldn't be done while he was awake, didn't get done. If your babe is down to one nap a day - congratulations! You are officially released from nap prison. Use the timing of your child's new nap schedule and your own energy levels to figure out when it works best for you to tackle these things. (I usually take that new found morning freedom and LEAVE the HOUSE!'s when I hit the grocery store or meet a friend for some connection, but more on that next week.) Now the trick is to figure out how to do all the things you used to do while they slept in the morning with a little buddy by your side.

We would all probably like to have a clean(ish) house and kids in clean(ish) clothes, but kids under age two have a knack for un-doing the work we are doing as we are doing it. Unsure how to make both of these things a reality, we end up either being the fun mom who plays constantly with her little darling and figures the chaos of the house is the price we have to pay for it, or the crazy cleaning mom who would love nothing more than for her child to quietly entertain themselves in a pack-n-play in the corner so we can dust the bookshelves and polish the silver in peace.

I struggled for a long time to figure out what it looked like to take care of my house and not banish my child from the premises (I'm definitely the crazy cleaning mom) until I realized this game-changing truth: creative play and being productive can overlap. Turning the empty laundry basket upside down (now it's a climbing apparatus!) while you fold laundry is play. Putting your toddler in his high chair with straws and a colander while you wash dishes or prep dinner is play. You can even put your little one in the bath to play/self-clean while you clean the rest of the bathroom. That's like, 3 birds with one stone I think. All of these things fill their little minds with new experiences, stimulate their senses and don't require you to sit criss-cross-applesauce on the carpet across from them. No it's not as simple as doing these things while they are napping, but it will enable you to redeem that precious afternoon nap for some sacred quiet time of your own.

I found that once I started integrating my son into the things I needed to get done around the house, I was more willing to sit down and devote my attention to 10-15 minutes of fully engaged play time with him. My favorite parenting moments often happen during this one-on-one play time. I think true PLAY is a far cry from the highly-stuctured, adult-manufactured experiences modern moms often feel pressured to create for our tots. True play is the giggle you share when you're blowing bubbles in the driveway.  It's the way your daughter mimics your animal sounds while you read a picture book.  It's the pure joy you revel in together when they discover how loud their own clapping is. I could preach a sermon on the fuss surrounding entertaining toddlers these days.

Children are the most self-entertaining creatures on the planet. 

They don't need an elaborate set up and expensive pre-paid activities. They do not need Mommy & Me yoga classes, story time at the library or painting in the park meet-ups. Those are great once your kid is over the age of two, and probably even better if they are nearing age three or four.  But before then? It is a lot of work. Now if you enjoy those things, go for it! Tour the zoo, visit the museum, join a play group. But if those things don't make your heart sing, DO NOT FEEL OBLIGATED TO DO THEM. There are better ways to meet your need to connect with the outside world (we'll talk about that later this week) and your little one doesn't need them. For real. They will be just as happy following you around the house playing with the empty oatmeal container. And you might be surprised at how much stress you save yourself if you're not trying to feed them, dress them, get a shower and dress yourself in order to run out the door for a 10am toddler-enrichment class.

So instead of taking them to story-time, sit down and read 5 books (or let's be real, the same book 5 times) before moving on to folding laundry. Try taking a walk around the block and be fully present, because you know you've already started the dishwasher and you have a plan for dinner when you get home. When you're not staring down a 10 hour day of simply trying to keep a little one entertained, I think you'll find some freedom to deeply enjoy the moments of play in between the other tasks that make up your day. 

Up next we're going to be talking about the other two things I schedule into every single stay-at-home day, time to connect with community and time to re-charge in the quiet. These two things can easily slip off the radar if you're not intentional about them, so subscribe to the blog (enter your email address at the bottom of the page or over to the right under my picture) to get next week's post in your inbox, I think you'll be encouraged! 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

3 Ways to Wear the Perfect Little Black Dress this Summer

Y'all. I found it. I have found the unicorn of little black dresses.

When I broke out my Spring wardrobe this year, I put it on my list - a simple dress that could do double-duty: days at the park or an evening out with bae. I have been diligently searching ever since the temperatures started climbing and last week my perseverance was rewarded. After searching stores and the Internet for months, I found this awesome little tank dress by Leith
  • It looks good with sneakers
  • It looks good with heels
  • It camouflages the pooch
  • It covers up the girls
  • It's comfortable
  • It's affordable 
  • It's SEXY
In short, everything I've ever wanted in a dress. I've worn this little blessing no less than 5 times this week and each time I felt like a rock star. Changing out my hair, shoes and bag is my top secret recipe for taking the same outfit from day to night:

Going to the park? 
Messy hair, don't care + chucks + a backpack for all your diaper, sippy cup and snack necessities. Because you're a pro, leave the necklace at home so your darling little one can't strangle you with it.

Brunch with the ladies? 
Casual braid under a hat + gladiator sandals + jean jacket because restaurants that serve mimosas tend to be chilly. For bonus points add a necklace that says I'm not even trying. 

Dinner with your boo? 
Top knot + heels as high as you can stand em + your brightest lipstick in a little clutch. 
Bonus points if you own a real racerback bra and aren't hiding your straps with a paperclip.

Snatch one up today while they still have all sizes available (For reference, I am usually a size 4-6 in dresses and this size small fits perfectly.) And forgive the messy closet selfies, I ain't no fashion blogger.

Nordstrom does not give me a commission in any way for promoting this dress, Nordstrom doesn't know who I am. Although Nordstrom if you're reading, I love you. 

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