Finding The Fun Of Moving

Isn’t he cute!

There aren’t many things in life that can prepare you for a move of mammoth proportions, being a military wife is the only thing I can think of that could prepare you for the move we just did; however, being retired military and moving across the country is another story all together.

We moved from Colorado Springs, Colorado, to Maine (we haven’t decided on a city yet). It was a 6 day 2K+ mile drive to get to Maine. Our longest day in the car was almost 12 hrs, and the shortest was 6 hrs. Looking back on it now, it’s a wonder that Hubby, the dog, and myself were able to stand each other by the time we pulled up to our hotel in Augusta, Maine.

There were a few unforeseen things we encountered as we were in the final press to get out of Colorado that shook our plans to their core, but thankfully the military prepared us to get through the unexpected. Two weeks before the day we planned to drive out of Colorado

Planning; Derailed

There aren’t many things in life that can prepare you for a move of mammoth proportions. Being a military wife I felt at least somewhat prepared for such a move. My husband had moved to England and back, and I had a couple of military moves under my belt, so I figured we were set and had planned for all unforeseen. Remember the saying, ”want to make God laugh, tell him your plans”? Keep that in mind.

We moved from Colorado Springs, Colorado, to Maine (we haven’t decided on a city yet). It was a 6 day 2K+ mile drive to get us to Maine. Our longest day in the car was almost 12 hrs, and our shortest was 6 hrs. Looking back on it now it’s a wonder that Hubby, the dog (Chaz), and myself were able to stand each other by the time we pulled up to our hotel in Augusta, Maine.

We had carefully planned the whole trip, from what to have by packed by when, to exactly where we could and would stop along the way for me to be able to eat. Looking back maybe we planned things to closely. The issues cropped up two weeks, almost to the day, before we were to leave.

We had reached the pinnacle of Hubby leaving his job, he’d given them 2 months notice and at last the day had finally arrived. We planned a mini vacation to get away from the boxes and chaos at home for a few days to decompress before the craziness of the new few weeks hit. We got back from that short trip and we to grab a bite to eat. Hubby got junk food (Arby’s) while I went to my favorite salad place for a dinner salad (Modern Market). The following Morning (Monday) Hubby woke early with a tummy ache. Knowing he had eaten junk food I told him to get the heating pad and to lay down. A few hours later, with a cup of tea that should have helped, if it was from dinner the night before, Hubby wan’t better. After careful consideration and a call to the nurse… we were off to the ER. Eight hours later…hubby was in surgery for a hot appendix. Yeah, I felt really bad after realizing that was the issue.

After surgery he felt much better, but he was told 6 weeks of no lifting anything that weighed more than a gallon of milk. I called our move organizer while we were waiting in the ER and thankfully they were able to schedule packers to come in and finish packing us out, because I had my hands full keeping hubby in bed, resting. One week after surgery we moved into a hotel so we were more comfortable while the house was mostly void of furniture.

Everything progressed as planned, until the day we were scheduled to drive out. Our dog got so stressed out about hubby being sick, my being stressed taking care of everything because hubby couldn’t, and still trying to work (thus I wasn’t sleeping much). The dog is very attached to me, I’m the one who’s home with him all day, I feed him, and he sleeps (quite literally) on me at night. So this, probably more than anything, really stressed him out. We got everything on our pre-move check list done, and got into bed for our final night in Colorado, and the dog was up twice in the middle of the night with diarrhea.

Leaving, Finally

Saturday, the first day of our journey, was our longest day on the road. We were up at 0600 and on the road by 0700, it was supposed to be a 7.5 hr drive to our final stop of the day. We got some coffee and some food and we were off, our first scheduled stop in 2.5 hrs so hubby could walk around and the dog could release himself. Half an hour later the dog was asking for a break, it was a good thing we stopped as the accidents from the night before were not a two time thing. Nope his tummy trouble took our 7.5 hour day and turned it into a 12 hour day. Poor little guy. Thankfully as they day wore on he improved. He got 12 hours of my either holding him, or him sleeping on his pillow next to me. We figured he just needed a little momma time.

The rest of the trip was rather uneventful, by day two Chaz was fine and our planned stops were more attainable. Off we went. With one major thing that had to be dealt with. Hubby was not allowed to lift anything, so guess who loaded and unloaded the car every night. You guessed it… me! Hubby had to hold the dog and endure the looks of disgust from those around us, very few of them offering any sort of help to me. I felt sorry for him, but that the same time there was nothing to be done about it. And as the days wore on I got rather good at it, if I do say so myself. Though by the fourth day we were happy to allow the porters to help when we had them at our disposal.

Moving is stressful, change is stressful, and all that stress can be over-powering.  The key is to breath, the goal is to endure, and the final product is to be enjoyed.  More to come.  Who knew getting a new doctor in a different region could be so much work.

It was gorgeously green, and far too sunny and hot for my liking.

Have Puppy Will Travel

When life gives you lemons…

What do you do when your allergies are getting worse, you have a dog, and it is becoming imperative that you travel more than half way across the country to more copacetic location to look around and find out where you’d like to land? Why you get an airplane approved pet carrier, calming meds for the dog, and you plan to take a week of vacation to go out to look around. Of course.

A recent visit to my allergist gave me a lot to ponder as I am having allergic reactions when I physically shouldn’t be able to react.  The simple answer, my allergies are far worse that we originally thought, and we need to rethink our options for treatment.  And when the allergist asks, “So what happened to you moving to Maine? Why hasn’t that happened yet?” You have to face the reality that life where you are is not your best life. And you need to get your butt in gear to make the move happen.

While we have been diligent in setting us up to be able to move at a moments notice, we hadn’t been out there to look around the areas we’d been pouring over on the internet.  Let’s face it, the internet can only do so much to convey exactly what you are getting yourself into.

And more lemons…

Now be prepared when planning to travel with your pet. I called United and asked about pet relief areas in the most popular connection air ports, after an hour on the phone with United asking questions, I then had to call each airport individually to see if they had pet areas. Thankfully we found one that had pet areas within the secured area of the airport at Dulles, and I was able to find flights through Dulles that would allow us time to take Chaz to these areas between flights without giving an excessively long layover.

Most airlines do not offer you a way to book your pet for travel online.  I booked our flights, picked out our seats (paying more for an upgrade to economy plus for more carry-on room) and then had to call the airline to add the dog – which canceled our seats, so I had to pay (again) for the seat upgrade, and my first charge for the upgrade will not be refunded until after we’ve returned from the trip.  It’s three hours of my life I can never get back.  So word to the wise, book the flight, but leave the seats alone just call the airline and get the pet booked, then get your seats. Save yourself this headache.

Make Limoncello…er…lemonade

Then I had to start planning on how to get the dog through the plane ride.  I talked to the Vet, and got meds.  I’m a huge fan of benadryl for calming the dog down, it turns out that might not be the best option all the time. So, the Vet suggested Tradozone, and that we do trial run while at home to make sure he handles the meds, and that we know what he should act like when he’s on them. Then I ordered the travel carrier.

I will say this about the carrier, there are a lot of them. And I have never been so thankful for a very small dog.  Sherpa has a guarantee that their bag will fit on the plane (or they’ll pay for any missed flights).  I got the large, even though Chaz is much smaller than the measurements for the carrier.  However, it gives Chaz plenty of room to move around if need be, and it offers a small storage area for treats.

We are leaving the carrier out so Chaz can get used to seeing it and smelling it.   Then we did a test run with the meds to make sure they worked correctly, and lasted for the correct length of time.  So, a drugged dog who is spending quite a bit of time in a travel carrier is what the weekend before the trip looked like.  Chaz handled the carrier fine, we even zipped him in.  It took a bit but he was able to lay down and sleep. The good new is that the dog did fine on the meds, though he wasn’t a fan of hubby handling him. The meds solidified the fact that Chaz is a Momma’s dog.

I also got some collapsable bowls for Chaz to drink from while we are traveling. And since they depict Chaz correctly, he is after all a Super Dog, I couldn’t resist these.

Now to find meds that will keep hubby calm on the flight.  I kid! kind of!

And drink it all up…

While we have often traveled with Chaz in tow, we have never flown with a dog, so this is going to be quite the experience.  Add into the situation his issues with food, and it’s going to be a fun time.

Yes, he is still battling his sensitive tummy.  We have a plan to test for food allergies when we get back. In the meantime we will be adding fish to his diet to see if that increases his appetite a bit. The good news is that I don’t think his tummy trouble is caused by a sensitive or stressed out nature.  The meds did not make him want to eat.  Check that possibility off my list.

We connected with a realtor in Maine, and are picking out some properties to look at while we are there.   Now I have to get through a week of work and planning for the trip while hubby is out of town for work, then we have one day to pack and get ready for the big trip. Chaz is a little vindictive about being on meds, once they began wearing off he started having deliberate accidents in the house. Right in front of me, he didn’t even try to hide it.  This week is sure to be fun.

To follow our travels with Chaz and just my complicated life in general look me up on:

Instagram @thecomplicatedtraveler

Twitter @complicatedtrav

Facebook @The Complicated Traveler

 

 

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A Soy-Free Existence Shattered

A Soy-Free Existence Shattered

There is nothing worse than taking a food allergy hit while traveling; especially when the side effects are on the smelly and messy side, followed by a migraine. Though thankfully the migraine came well after we were home, and I had meds to help with the other side-effects while we were in the car.  It takes the motto of “don’t leave home without it” to a whole new extreme.

Exile Brewing Company is located in Des Moines, Iowa, near their downtown area.  It’s very industrial, and the air is filled with the tang of fermenting barley and wheat as you would expect from a brewery.

I was traveling with a group, and a beer after a long hard day at the track is just what this group (minus myself, beer – bleh) desired, for me being able to eat there is the only requirement.  So, I called ahead and checked it out, turns out if I communicate with my server, they can feed me. Great! I let the group know and we head out.

Typically, it’s the third time that is the charm, in this case it was the first time.  I ordered their chicken plate, and it came with a starter salad.  They brought me their house parmesan dressing, it smelled divine – which typically denotes when I can’t have something – but I had them double check the ingredients.  Turns out I couldn’t have that dressing, but I could have their Italian dressing. Dinner progressed without incident, and the group deemed the beer worthy of their taste buds.

Two nights later, we decided to return to Exile.  This time burgers and fries were the desire, as well as beer, after a very long weekend of field and track.  It was time to enjoy the company, fill our bellies, and then get a goodnights rest for the 11 plus hour drive home the next day.

This time, I wasn’t as fortunate.  It was Saturday night, and they were busy. Though we were seated quickly, getting and keeping our servers attention was not easy.  A member of our party has a very drastic reaction to onions, and requested no onions on his burger.  Sadly, when he received it…there were onions present. Thankfully he could pull them off and carry on with his meal, but the fact that they were there was a bad omen for me.

I did my due diligence and asked the server to verify that I could have my desired menu choice, a lovely steak salad with heirloom tomatoes (heirloom tomatoes are a personal favorite).

Now when I had called they informed me that I needed to let my server know about my soy allergy so that they could inform the kitchen of it, and the kitchen could then take steps to prevent cross contamination and use pure olive oil.

I stressed my allergy and he assured me there was no soy in my entrée of choice. It came with the parmesan dressing, so I asked for the Italian instead, and proceeded to wait patiently.

My salad came, and I ate with gusto. I was starving, and realized quickly that it wasn’t enough to cover the energy I had burned at the track meet, so I also ordered a starter salad.  Honestly, I think I wanted the fresh vegetables, it’s one thing we don’t get enough of when traveling to out of state meets.  Plus, the started salad also had heirloom tomatoes, so it was a no brainer I asked for the Italian dressing, and settled back enjoyed the company.

We got back to our room, and my symptoms started. The only thing I can figure is that they didn’t take proper steps in the kitchen to ensure I only got olive oil when cooking my steak.  All I knew was that I didn’t feel well, and if I didn’t start on my meds soon I would be in trouble.

The moral of this story is, you can never be too careful. Just when I think I can eat somewhere new, which is nice for all involved since we carpool and they are typically stuck going where I can go to eat, so it’s nice when we can change things up a bit, then something like this happens and I just want to run back to my hole and only eat at places I know are safe.  It’s kind of sad, I won’t deny it, but the reality of not eating properly is dangerous. And I will take sad over dangerous any day.

After years of going wherever someone else wanted to go and basically living on salads, no meat or any protein just veggies, after a long grueling day of field events where we can be doing anything from running in fields to spot where a shot put, discus, hammer, weight, or javelin fell, to shuttling said tools back to the athletes just to name two jobs; add into that extreme weather from 100-degree heat to 42 degrees and freezing rain for outdoor venues and all of it requires energy for your body to burn, and contrary to popular some beliefs, only eating vegetables is not the best solution (for me anyway). Even if you want/need to lose weight, not eating properly, regardless of the reason, is not the answer.

Once my doctor threatened me with a hospital stay to get my blood chemistry back to “safe” levels, I realized the error of my ways and put my foot down when it came to eating with groups. Sometimes it means I don’t go with the group. That really sucks, especially for my husband because he chooses to go with me and that means he doesn’t get to socialize (something he thrives on), but there is only one me and I have to take care of me.  That is a hard lesson to learn, for some.  (Pot calling the kettle black…right here!)

Thankfully hubby doesn’t complain, much. After four days of the same restaurant he’s ready to eat anything else, but he’s a trooper. I offer to let him go with the group, and Lord bless him he chooses me every time. Thankfully, with my continued efforts to try new places – it is not easy let me tell you, once you experience a food allergy reaction you are very leery to re-live it – I have found some great places of us to eat when we travel.  And hopefully there will be more travel, for fun not track (though we love our track trips) in our near future.

2016: The Year In Review

A lot has happened in this twelve-month period. We put our home on the market, after a mad rush to get it all painted and pretty – inside and out.

I started selling photos this year, it’s been a very slow climb but I think I’m gaining traction. I just pray that it continues growing in 2017 (and I hope for a new lens for my landscapes, just saying).

I also started blogging, and that means trying to find ways to monetize it. I’m finding that my health issues combined with my food and environmental allergies have a foot hold in the blogosphere I just need to learn more about how to grow it into a business which means reading more about it.

I can’t help but marvel at how most of my goals are centered on reading more. I often feel like I waste a lot of time reading, when in reality it is the center to my success. It’s official! I can be paid to read! #GOAL

 

2016 the year of stress… Between getting the house ready to sell, and my health issues “stress” is he only word that could apply to 2016.

Mother nature doing her best to keep our expectations in check… we had a huge hail storm in Southern Colorado and that left me unable to get a contractor out to paint our house until the last minute because so many homes were still unlivable that my house wasn’t a priority.

I had over a month wait with most contractors to get an estimate to get the house payment. And even then they couldn’t guarantee that they could get the house painted within the time frame I needed it done if we sold the house before 1 Nov. I was told this in August. We closed early October.
Thankfully I found a contractor who was able to fit me in, the outside of the house looked great when they were done, before we closed.

Every time we had weather move through I prayed it wouldn’t cause more damage anywhere in the city. I never realized just how stressful selling a house could be. I’ve watched HGTV you don’t see them freaking out on the shows about selling houses, but man! I sure did.

 

We finally sold the house, and we had a hiccup in moving into a rental; so we spent a month in a hotel. I can’t say it was a hardship. Having the room cleaned every day was a huge luxury I completely and thoroughly enjoyed. We had moved into a suite that had a small kitchenette so I could cook – somewhat – and so we could carry on as normal as possible.

Finally, as I was settling into a routine at the hotel, we got a rental. So every crazy bit spooled up again as we prepared to move into the house.

Thankfully we were able to space the signing of the papers and the actual move in so that we had time to clean the house, and buy carpets for the living areas that were hardwood. Everything went as smoothly as it could possibly go – well, other than the people who packed up our pods did so in a way that damaged most of our wooden furniture pieces. We are still trying to work out the paperwork for the moving company to fix everything. (See…stress.)

 

Thanksgiving rolled around, we were set up in our new home and all seemed to be calming down.   We had a wonderful Thanksgiving…then we set off on a journey to see my In-Laws. Two day in a car, one way, and then the actual visit. More stress… but this time with good coffee, good food, and a wonderful day with just Hubby, Chaz and I going and visiting the missions in and around San Antonio.

I have shared about the coffee…but I haven’t been able to get to the rest.  

Finally home, we got down to Christmas. Sadly Hubby’s travel schedule, and my poor health, meant that we didn’t get our decorations up. So we carried our Christmas spirit inside our hearts and let our home remain undecorated.

During this trip I started writing reviews for Yelp and TripAdvisor. I’m gaining a following there, so it will be fun to see where that takes me next year.

 

I hadn’t felt well for most of December, but I couldn’t figure out why. I had started Botox injection in the summer for my migraines and received my shots in December and that should have boosted my energy. Sadly it didn’t. My energy continued to be lagging until the week before Christmas when I realized why I felt so badly.

Kidney stones.

The very mention of them often brings people to a halt, with faces twisted in a sympathetic grimace. I had passed a couple without medications, but finally Hubby said no more and insisted I at least call the nurse to see what needed to be done. I called. Hubby was right (I’ve had to repeat that several times so Hubby can bask in the knowledge that he was right) the nurse said a visit to the ER was in order. So, I was taken to the ER and the CAT scan revealed I had three more stones to go. UGH! I left with meds and orders to see my doctor ASAP.

The next day I called my doctor and went into see him for some different meds that work better for me.   It was then that I found out I also had ovarian cysts, something any woman who has dealt with them will sympathize with me over. Since I had both at the same time, hurting is an understatement.
Finally Christmas Eve, I passed the last of them (or so I thought) and I am starting to feel better. I have more sleep that is needed to heal; thankfully my body has no problem in letting me know I’ve done too much.
So I’ve had to basically write off the end of 2016 as healing time, instead of doing a last big push to finish the year strong. I must admit that is a nice aspect to building your own business; you are the only one to suffer if you have to take time off. It’s also a great learning moment.

I’ve heard the saying that, “When you work for yourself, your boss can be a real jerk” Nathan Lowel [1], so this means that I have to remember to take care of my employees (myself) so they are healthy to produce quality work.

Upon writing this I have discovered I have one more stone to go, my right kidney is not happy but hopefully the end is near.

2017 – are you still with me???

I’ve never been one to set outrageous goals for myself. However, since I passed a milestone in 2016 – the age of 35 was given to me as a goal to reach by my allergist, a healthy dose of paranoia got me here and now I’m ready to spread my wings and reach for the stars.

So my plan for 2017 is several things that I have no way of prioritizing.

  • Make money from my blog
  • Make money by writing
  • Make money by editing
  • Make money from selling my photos

Are you sensing a pattern here?

So here the plan… I need to move out of Colorado. When you are allergic to the sun living at high altitude is not a good idea.   In order to move we have to be able to find jobs in the new location, or have a mobile income to take with us. This is where my blogging, writing, editing, and photography come into play. All of these can be done from the road or a new location, so there you have it.

Look for new posts, areas that are allergy friendly, and maybe even recipes…haven’t decided yet.

New health goals…

  • Avoid dairy, and thus kidney stones, at all costs
  • Continue to fight my anaphylaxis
  • Continue avoiding soy at all costs (had to mark a restaurant off my OK list)

Here’s to a brighter and successful new year…2017!!!

To endless horizons in the New Year!

[1] Nathan Lowell (2014) Owner’s Share (Trader’s Tales From The Golden Age Of The Solar Clipper) (Volume 6)

 

 

The Land of Enchantment

Being from New Mexico I can say this, they have the best red chile sauce anywhere and their sunsets are amazing.

Through our journey to see Hubby’s parents we are taking the longer route through New Mexico to stay with some of my family, and so I can get my sopapilla fix on.

This is a very important thing as they are typically fried in oil I can’t have and they just aren’t ‘right’ in Colorado.  I never get a golden pillow of delight begging me to grab the honey jar and meld them together in the perfect after dinner treat.

Instead, when ordering sopapillas in Colorado, you get one of two things: a rock hard pillow that could possibly chip your tooth if bitten into or a flat and floppy piece of…square dough…at least I think it’s dough. Another downside to Colorado’s sopapillas is that they come with cinnamon and sugar, strawberries and whipped cream. And if you are brave enough to ask for them plain with honey the look you get is one reserved for tourists who “don’t know what a sopapilla is”.

It’s so annoying that I stopped asking for them at the end of a meal at any “Mexican” restaurants in Colorado.

Thus our trecking 4hours (round trip) out of our way so we could stop in Albuquerque at the corner of Lomas and 16th Street where Monroe’s is located.

While I can’t eat any of their meats, their red chile cheese enchiladas and sopapillas are just what a New Mexico girl needs when she’s in the area.

If you are planning a trip to Albuquerque give them a call 505-242-1111 and talk to them about your allergies. If you don’t have allergies and simply want to taste a plate of pure heaven stop in and see the lovely folks at Monroe’s on Lomas.

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5 Things I Do Before Trying A New Restaurant

When you have food allergies, no matter how severe, there is one thing that strikes fear in your heart like none other…eating at a new restaurant.

Here are a few steps I take before trying a new restaurant.  They aren’t fool proof, and it doesn’t mean that you will be able to eat anything you want on the menu, but they should save you a few uncomfortable evenings after diner.

1. Look them up on line especially pay attention to their menu. If they have instructions at the bottom…* eating undercooked…yada, yada, and it also says to “alert your server if you have food allergies”… then in my experience you should be in luck.

2. Call them, but not at a peak time.  If you google the restaurant during their peak times should be listed.  When you call them ask, specifically, to speak to a chef or the kitchen manager. Do not just talk to whomever answers the phone, if they aren’t aware of food allergy severity or if they aren’t a part of the ordering process they will not be able to thoroughly answer your questions.

3. Get a name for when you go into the restaurant. This way you can give your server the name of who you need to talk to concerning your allergy.  I always call, then double check when I get there.  You can never be too careful.

4.  Get a card listing your allergies, your allerigst should be able to help here. If not there are companies who will make them for you.  This makes it easier for your server. They can take the card back to the kitchen so the chef can come out and quickly lay out your options.

I’ve been asked several times if I had a card, which I don’t because of the nature of my allergies, it’s hard to list out what I’m allergic to.  Often people assume that since I’m allergic to soy, so long as there is not soy sauce I should be fine.  But that isn’t the case. I have make sure there’s no mayo, or that the restaurant only uses real butter as opposed to a margarin butter blend. And the list goes on and on.  Never be afraid to repeat yourself.

5.  Keep your expectations in check. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to a new restaurant and had one of two things happen.

I either found I could only have one thing on the menu, or that the chef would have to make something not on the menu for me. Which I have to tell you isn’t such a bad thing.

OR

I can have anything on the menu, that isn’t asian inspired, and I’m so overwhelmed I can’t decide.

Conclusion

While I’ve come to appreciate the chef who is willing to go off book, I typically get food that is so good I’m willing to eat the same thing every night for a week.  It’s not always that easy.

Once when on a trip we went to a seafood restaurant in Las Vegas.  I had called a head and talked to the chef, so they were prepping an area in which to make my food and we had settled on what would be made for me.

We were on a field and track trip so there was a rather large group of us going.  When we got there, I spoke with the chef again confirming that I could eat what was being offered.  While I was doing this the server came and took everyone else’s order.

Once my order was confirmed: pan fried trout (a personal favorite), steamed asparagus, potatoes and brussel sprouts, and an olive tapenade.  I sat back and enjoyed the conversations going on around me.  As everyone’s orders began coming out, seafood platters, crab cakes, a bunch of deep fried goodness I sat there calmly waiting for my food.

The chef brought it out himself.  After confirming everything looked ok, the chef returned to the kitchen and I looked up to many pairs of eyes staring at my plate.  One of my friends raised his hand, while looking at my plate and proclaimed, “I think I have food allergies”.  HA!

I must admit it was one of the best meals I had had up until that point in my food allergy journey.

On the opposite side of the coin, we recently had a new restaurant open here and I made the mistake of calling during their opening night.  I checked for peak times and none were listed, I quickly realized why none were listed.  Anyway,  I talked to someone in the kitchen who was very frazzled, and she asked that I email, but also said that she would get some answers and call me back.

I emailed them asking about their menu, and never heard a thing back.  It’s rather disheartening, but I will not eat there. Hubby has asked a couple of times about it, but since I do not have answers I will not be eating there.  It’s that simple.

What are some steps you take to ensure you don’t take a hit when eating out?

Book Review: A Leap Into Destiny

Are you about to head out on a trip?  Are you wanting a new book for your traveling enjoyment?  Well I have the book for you.

A Leap Into Destiny by Michelle Sullivan is a wonderful book for traveling.  It is easy to follow along, and its twist and turns keep you come back for more!

This is the perfect vacation book. Though you will want to have tissues handy at the end, happy endings have a way of making the eyes water a bit.

Simply click the image above to get your copy today!