Super League Gaming!

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A few weeks ago, I was gifted with 2 tickets for my daughter and her friend to participate in the Super League Gaming Minecraft event at our local theater, the Hill Country Galleria Cinemark.  They brought their laptops, were assigned a team and had a blast for 4 Saturday’s.

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The theater was actually quite full with kids of all ages playing together on the big screen.  The cooperation level was impressive amongst all these kids, with many of them meeting for the first time.

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(this photo is a great example of the participants viewpoints with both their laptops and the big screen).

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It was very well organized, clear instructions were given on how to login, etc., and most of all a lot of fun for these 13 year olds.  John Bickle of the Super League Gaming support team was extremely helpful in getting the girls set up in the computer system prior to their arrival.  He was friendly and answered all my questions.  Overall the entire experience was great and the girls are looking forward to participating again next time it comes back around!  They highly recommend it!

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* All photos by my daughter, Lola Amador-Locher.

Stonyfield Goodness

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Hey all!  This month Stonyfield challenged the Yo Getters to come up with some recipes using Stonyfield Yogurt and Nativas Naturals products.  I received the Mulberry Berries and Hemp Seeds.  Both of these are super nutritious additions to any recipe.

Why do you want these in your pantry?  Read on…

Mulberry Berries

Mulberries are native to the Morus genus of trees and can be found in many parts of the world nowadays, but they originated in the Far East, traveling along the Silk Road from China to Turkey. Beyond their sweet and delicate flavor, mulberries are an excellent source of nutrients including iron, calcium, vitamin C, protein and fiber.

Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds provide a healthy dose of protein, omega fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants and minerals.

Hemp is a well-balanced vegetarian protein source that includes all of the essential amino acids. Not only is hemp one of the best veggie sources of protein, it’s easy for the body to digest and assimilate. Hemp also features plenty of other nutrients including abundant fiber, chlorophyll, vitamins and omega-3 and -6 essential fatty acids.

The Recipes

I made the best dinner the other night using Stonyfield Yogurts and Navita Naturals products.  I love testing new recipes and decided instead of doing just one recipe with my yogurt, why not base an entire meal around it?

So for your enjoyment, here is what I made:

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Middle Eastern Inspired Chicken

I love Middle Eastern and Mediterranean style food.  The spices and freshness are so appealing and healthy.  For this dish, the spices and yogurt were a perfect match.

INGREDIENTS

1⁄2 cup plain yogurt
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
1⁄2 teaspoon ground coriander
1⁄2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken

DIRECTIONS

Mix the yogurt with the seasonings and place in a plastic bag with the chicken.

Marinate for 2 hours to overnight.

Pound chicken in the bag with the marinade to 1/2 thick and grill, saute, skewer or bake until lightly browned and cooked through.

Serve with rice or pasta and salad and enjoy!

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Greek Inspired Salad

For the salad I chopped up Romaine lettuce and added heirloom cherry tomatoes, sliced black olives, goat cheese crumbles, chopped cucumbers and topped it with Navitas Naturals Mulberry Berries and Hemp Seeds.  Super simple!  The dressing is a yogurt dressing I made and oh my gosh, Stonyfield organic yogurt is perfect for this.  All the flavor of Ranch without all the bad for you fat and extra ingredients!  This didn’t last the night.

Lemon-Dill Yogurt Dressing

1 cup while milk Stonyfield plain yogurt, drained for 1 hour in a strainer (save the whey that drips out for smoothies!)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill

After yogurt has drained and thickened, combine everything into a bowl and refrigerate for an hour.  Great with salads or as a dip!!

And to top off the meal, a dessert using my yogurt and toppings!  These also didn’t hang out for long.

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French Yogurt Cupcakes

Nonstick canola oil spray
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup raw sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
3/4 cup plain whole-milk Stonyfield yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Navitas Naturals Mulberry Berries and Hemp Seeds.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat cupcake pan with canola oil spray or paper liners.

Whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and kosher salt in a medium bowl.

Using your fingers, rub raw sugar with lemon zest in a large bowl until sugar is moist. Add yogurt, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract; whisk to blend. Fold in dry ingredients just to blend.

Pour batter into prepared pan.  Sprinkle help seeds and mulberries on top if desired. Bake until top of cakecakes are golden brown and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 15 minutes.

Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Invert onto rack; let cool completely.  Can top with homemade whipped cream if desired.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

So there you have it!  My Stonyfield based meal!  You can find Stonyfield products at most grocery stores.  The yogurt is perfect to use in recipes subbing out higher fat ingredients…we use it everyday!  Hope you enjoy and let me know what you have made with your Stonyfield products!

The opinions and thoughts contained in this post are 100% mine. I only ever work with companies I support and think you, my readers, will like. Please read my full review and endorsement policy here.

Ice Chips Review!

I recently received an assortment of Ice Chips from Bev and Charlotte to review and am thrilled with them!  What a great way to get the benefits of Xylitol in a sweet treat that I feel good giving to my girls.  Love them!

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Who are the Ice Chips Grandmas?

Bev Vines-Haines and Charlotte Clary have known each other since 1986.  They met in Washington state and bonded over their shared entrepreneurial spirits and love of all natural products.  Over the years they had many ideas they put into place, including all natural herbal salves and lotions.

In the fall of 2009, they were looking for a way to make Xylitol candy. They knew Xylitol was great for teeth and diabetics could enjoy it.  They wanted to create a good for you treat.  They had tried ordering a few different kinds but could not find one with the zing and the burst of flavors they wanted.  They are both grandmas and between them they have 37 grandchildren. They wanted a healthy candy that would taste good enough so that their grandchildren would gobble it the same way they gobbled sugar. Thus, Ice Chips Candy® was born.

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What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a polyol, a sugar alcohol. It is all natural, safe for diabetics and has many health benefits.

Mostly, it is made from birch bark or corn. Ice Chips Candy uses only the birch bark Xylitol in order to avoid any chance of using Genetically Modified Corn (GMO).

What are some of the benefits of Xylitol?

  • Strengthens teeth
  • Reduces new tooth decay
  • Reduces cavity-causing bacteria
  • Inhibits growth of dental plaque
  • Stimulates saliva flow
  • Does NOT impact insulin levels
  • Contains zero net effective carbs
  • Delicious and satisfying
  • The FDA has approved xylitol as a Natural Sweetener
  • Xylitol is a natural sweetener found in the fibers of many fruits and vegetables
  • Xylitol is found in small amounts in the human body
  • One teaspoon of xylitol contains 40% less calories than sugar
  • Savoring ICE CHIPS Candy 3 to 5 times a day delivers maximum benefits
  • Use ICE CHIPS Candy immediately after meals or snacks
  • Recent studies have found a link between consuming Xylitol during pregnancy and stronger teeth in infants

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I have to say, these little tins won’t be lasting long in our house!  The kids love them and I know they are getting some great benefits!  The Root Beer Float is my girls favorite!  I love the Peppermint.  But they all taste fantastic!

You can find Ice Chips at most Whole Foods and other health food stores.  Or you can order directly from the Grandmas!!

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The opinions and thoughts contained in this post are 100% mine. I only ever work with companies I support and think you, my readers, will like. Please read my full review and endorsement policy here.

An Interview With Shirley Nolan

This is a combined review and interview with someone not only very near and dear to me, but who is also a very talented writer.  I am so pleased to introduce you to my mom, Shirley Nolan Amador and her new novel, Lotus.

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My mom grew up in Indio, California during the 50’s.  Her parents were small business owners and very well known in this, then small community.  She was an avid reader and had a huge imagination.  But like for most young girls in that era, opportunity wasn’t as plentiful as it is now.  Mom had many interests and aspirations, however, as most girls did then, she married young and within a couple years was a mother…to me as it so happens..;)  I am aging myself now…ha!  She really loved becoming a mom though….:)

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I know my mother was happy with her new role as housewife and stay at home mom.  She went on the have 6 children in all, loving all of us for our own special gifts.  Putting her hobbies and interests aside, or at least gearing them to benefit all of us (she could sew a wardrobe for each of us in no time!), she did what every other mother does…she did her best.  No matter what happened in our world, mom always tried to make it seem like she was the happiest woman ever.  And I believe for a time she really was!  She certainly loves children, she is a wonderful grandmother to all our kids now!  But I also know my mom had dreams that didn’t really involve any of us.  Back in those days, to want to follow your dreams was considered in popular society to be selfish.  She grew up in an era where you took care of your husband and children, and didn’t always aspire to do more.  Those women that did were viewed by many as rebels.  That dirty word was born, feminists!  I know this caused her some dissatisfaction in life for a time. But even though she was a dutiful wife and mother, she still taught all of us to follow our dreams, no matter what that meant.  I remember her saying as long as we were happy and not hurting anyone, that was the goal.

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As times changed and opportunities opened up to women, so did my mom’s world.  After most of us were raised and on our own, she only had my two youngest sisters left at home.   So she decided to go back to school.  She worked hard and graduated with her Associate’s degree in Paralegal Studies.  She started working in criminal law and was extremely good at it.  She was part of some of the biggest cases in Southern California during those years.  I was so proud of her being on the front page of several newspapers after a particular difficult and grueling case was finished.  During these years she has been threatened, even carried a small gun for awhile for protection, seen cases defeated, had her heart broken by her young clients (she treated most of them as if they were her own children), but she continued fighting for what she believed in.  This little Irish woman is tough!

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(my mom and youngest sister)

After several years and a move to Texas, she started working at a major chain bookstore.  Happy in her little town, close to her grandkids and making new friends, her love of reading and books were once again opened up to her.  She met authors, organized literary events,  and read everything she could during those years.  During this time, she felt something growing inside of her.  Something she had put away for years.  It was her imagination.  It was back and she had a story to tell.

Lotus was born through my mom’s imagination and dreams.  It is a story, very symbolically close to her own, about a young woman learning to find her inner strength and balance both her great loves…her desire to be the best mom as well as to follow her dreams.  I am so proud of my mom.  She is a true inspiration and a shining example of it never being too late to discover yourself completely.  I am proud to be her daughter and can only pray that I become half the woman she is.  Thank you mom for this gift….

And now, a short interview with my mom….Welcome Shirley….thank you so much for agreeing to do this.  Let’s dive in!

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Where can my readers buy or see Lotus?

Lotus is available at Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com as well as select B and N stores, and at my website!

Tell us a little bit about the story.

This is a story of a young Chinese woman who comes to America from China on the verge of becoming a mother. She and her young husband settle in San Francisco Chinatown and she is stalked for the slave-trade.  She is a stranger in this country and unsure of what her role is in her new life.

Give us an insight into your main idea. What inspired you to come up with the theme?

I have always loved San Francisco and greatly admire the Asian culture. I heard a story when I was a child from a friend of my Mom’s. Her mother disappeared in Chinatown and was never found. This story stuck with me.  Lotus is my version of this and similar stories.

What are you working on at the moment? Any other books in the works?

Yes, I’m working on a sequel to Lotus, it will be called Violet. I also have a children’s book that I wrote and have done nothing with yet, however I eventually will get that out and work on it. It is a story of a ranch and a horse and is based on a period of time in my own life.  Lotus took on a life of it’s own in my imagination and so had to be written and published first…;)

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Did you always see yourself as an author?

Not really, although I have always loved to write. After a career as a criminal paralegal and investigator in California I feel I have stories in my head that need to be told.

How did you do the research for this story?

I am familiar with San Francisco and have visited many times. I did most of the research on line. I researched the earthquake and places that existed at that time as well as Chinese culture and immigration.  I would like to return to San Francisco before finishing Violet for more inspiration.

Do you have any other cultural influences you are exploring for future books?

In Violet the missing girl is Korean, not Chinese.  And will pick up a few years after Lotus ends.

What are your other interests?

I have a degree in Paralegal Studies from Fullerton College. I worked for many years as a Court Appointed paralegal and investigator in California handling high profile murder cases. After moving to Texas I worked for a major bookstore for eight years. Reading is a passion of mine. I started reading before I started school and have been an avid reader ever since. I also enjoy sewing, knitting and other crafts. I love to travel and enjoy spending time with my grandchildren.

Anything else you would like to add?

Although this book was written as adult fiction, I think young girls would enjoy it. I would say 12 and older. It sends an important message to young girls on issues as trust and being aware of your surroundings.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

I have just launched my new website Shirley Nolan Amador

Facebook: Shirley Amador

Twitter:  Shirley Amador

My review

I was captivated with Lotus from the first chapter.  During the climax of the book I literally cried with worry about the fate of the main character.  I could not put the book down and read it in just a couple days.  Highly recommended!  And this isn’t just because the author happens to be my mom, but because it’s a good story!  So don’t wait….do yourself a favor and pick up a copy…

Peace!

Review: Creative Kids Photo Guide Craft Books

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Just received a set of books that are perfect for summer!  Creative Kids Complete Photo Guide Craft books!  Along with a couple extra bonus books.

The Creative Kids Complete Photo Guide series leads the way with step-by step instructions.  Sewing, crochet, knitting and bead crafts!  Super easy instructions with clear photos of every step.  Tons of great projects that will keep the kids entertained through the summer!

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For a little more variety, dip into the sparkly side of life with Charm Love Friendship Bracelets and Rubber Band Glam. They are both sure to be a hit with kids from about first grade through middle school.  Easy enough for my 7 year old grandson, and holds the attention of my 13 year old daughter!

My kids are already diving in and excited about all the projects layed out.  I am excited to share them with you!

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The opinions and thoughts contained in this post are 100% mine. I only ever work with companies I support and think you, my readers, will like. Please read my full review and endorsement policy here.

Koala Safe Router Review

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In today’s world, we all have a dependency to play a little too much on our electronics devices.  Smart phones, tablets, lap tops, all common products in our homes.  Kids are especially vulnerable to the addictive qualities of these products.  I know I wished for a better way to limit time on their electronics without the fights.

KoalaSafe is a router with a wireless network that can be programmed to shut off. Easily connect kids’ devices to the network, and schedule when they can access the Internet. When it turns off, children know it’s time to put away their electronics.

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Parents faced with addicted smart-device kids have an ally on their side with KoalaSafe! Create a “KoalaSafe Moment” right from the start by limiting online time for kids and gain some much needed peace at home. KoalaSafe is a simple solution for the endless hours of screen time on connected devices.

Easy-to-use family-friendly WIFI access point:
•    Protect and manage all devices from one mobile device interface
•    Set to turn off at specific times
•    Block inappropriate sites and apps

After seeing his nephew become more addicted to online games and seeing his sister battling to manage screen time, founder Steve Pack created a better way to help parents regain some screen time balance.

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We have been using our Koala Safe for over a month now and love it!  Really has cut down on the battles and disappointments when we tell the kids times up!  I love that I can control it from my phone as well.  Definitely recommend this router!

The opinions and thoughts contained in this post are 100% mine. I only ever work with companies I support and think you, my readers, will like. Please read my full review and endorsement policy here.

Review: Stonyfield Organic Greek Yogurt

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Who here doesn’t love a good yogurt?  We are a huge fan in this house and have always used Stonyfield for everything from eating it alone, to smoothies, to substituting it for milk in recipes, even as a sour cream substitute!  This month I tried the Organic Greek Yogurt for the first time and have to say we are all hooked!  Such a great thick and smooth texture, fresh flavors and of course the Stonyfield quality!  My 18 month old grandson loves it with almost every meal!  I use it in the kids morning smoothies and even used the Blueberry flavored yogurt in waffle mix!!  Yum!

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One of the best things Stonyfield did with this yogurt is keep the flavor separate from the actual yogurt.  This works well in my family because my oldest daughter loves full flavor, while my youngest likes it lighter.  Satisfies both of them!

If you haven’t tried the Greek Yogurt yet, don’t walk, run and get it.  I promise you will never go back to regular!

The opinions and thoughts contained in this post are 100% mine.  I only ever work with companies I support and think you, my readers, will like.  Please read my full review and endorsement policy here.

Review: Frogglez Goggles

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My little one, Xiola, loves swim goggles….like seriously loves them.  So when I was approached by a Frogglez rep about reviewing a pair of their new goggles, I jumped at the chance.  I will admit I was skeptical however, we have gone through many brands of goggles with none really working out as well as we hope.  I had never heard of these before so wanted to give the a chance.  I knew she would love them as soon as I opened the box.   They are really soft and are incredibly well made.  She put them on and he gave a huge thumbs up on comfort.  Her words, “These are the most comfortable goggles ever!”

 

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Frogglez are super easy to adjust, unlike some others that I grow frustrated at and inevitably pinch and poke her head, pull her hair and never fit correctly around her eyes.   These are like a dream.  No complaints or frustration!

 

Frogglez products are latex free, Phthalates-free, Lead-free, Formaldehyde-free and are continuously tested to ensure the safety of our children.  This makes all the difference in the world to me because they were created by a mom and dad who had the same frustrations we all have with other swim goggles for our children and wanted a safe product for them as well.   Born from the heart and out of necessity, Christian Hahn and his wife came up with the perfect solution for children who love to wear goggles.  I will definitely be getting more to keep on hand!

 

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It’s been too cold to swim still, but with Spring quickly approaching and warmer days upon us, we will be in the water sooner rather than later, and Xiola will definitely be sporting her new eyewear!

 

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Clear Choice

Want to give a plug to my brother and his business partner.  They own Clear Choice Window Cleaning and are getting great reviews on their work!  These guys are hard-working, conscientious and really care about the quality of what they do.  I’m not just saying this because I love my bro, but because it’s the truth.  Check out just some of what they do:

Now’s the time, before the darker days of winter come, to get your windows crystal clear and sparkling bright! 

Love you bro!

Now back to your regularly scheduled program…

Peace!

We Interrupt This Gardening Moment For a Little ACL Fun (Lots of photos)

We went to Austin City Limits music festival on Friday and Sunday of this past weekend.  What a blast!  The kids had so much fun, as did we.  Friday was the perfect day.  Weather was great, lines were short and the bands rocked!  We saw alot of great talent, but one that stands out from that day for us is the band Pheonix.  They are from France and we really like them alot.  Also, the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s who are Lola’s favorite right now.  She was so excited to be able to see them play live.

Sunday found us under deep grey skies and threatening to pour down on us…but it never did.  Saturday it rained all day and so the mud was thick at the park.  We didn’t go Saturday, but with the way the mud was on Sunday I can only imagine how it was in the rain!  The girls LOVED stomping through it though.  And while it didn’t rain on us (we were prepared), it was humid!  Still didn’t bring us down though as we saw the B52’s.  Despite reminding me of just how old I’m getting, they still can put on a show..haha!  We also saw The Dead Weather which is Jack White‘s latest project (He is also in the White Stripes).  We LOVE them and they don’t disappoint.

We spent a huge chunk of time in the kid’s area with the girls on Friday.  Both were thrilled as they got their hair colored, Xi got a tattoo, Lola got to jam with the School of Rock kids as well take part in a Hip-Hop workshop.  She rapped away and then they gave her a CD they’d recorded of her…she felt like the star for sure!  The guys running that workshop were the Q Brothers and they were great with the kids.  On Sunday they did an improv rap for the Buddy Bucks guy that had Jason and I rolling on the floor…all about why they don’t sell more organic and local produce at HEB…haha!   The School of Rock All-Stars were amazing kids as well!  They covered some good, old fashion rock and roll tunes and did a great job.  The last act we saw was a DJ who goes by Girl Talk.  He samples tons of different music and just has a very unique and fun style.  The crowd was going crazy!  Lola and I danced and danced.

So we’ll return to our regularly scheduled AmLo Farms fare in a moment…for now, enjoy the pictures of our weekend.


The first stage we saw upon entering.  The Knux were playing.  They are old school hip hop and were fun.
 
 
Xi spent alot of time on J’s shoulders.  She really loved going up close to the stage with him too!
 
DJ Lola with the Q Brothers
 
Rockin’ with the School of Rock kids.  She wants to take classes next year when she’s old enough.
 
 
My little punk rock munchkin
 
 
Pheonix
 
 
Xi really loved seeing the bands
 
 
J was so happy…I love this photo
 
 
Dancing queen!
 
 
The Hat
 
 
My oldest girl and me
 
 
Yes, Barbie came to the festival too…Hah!
 
 
This gal is a professional photographer and she kept taking pics of the girls.  Lola was happy to meet a new friend of course!
 
 
Lola up on J’s shoulders watching the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s in her cape.  She was thrilled that the lead singer of the band also wore a cape!
Sunday:
 We thought for sure we were going to get hit with this.  But it blew over and instead rained down at our house, perfect! 

 
 They still rock!  B52’s

 
Back with the Q Brothers in Xi’s hat this time
 
 
The All-Stars!  
 
 
 Xi woke up happy from her nap

 
The mud was thick!
 
 
Rocking out to The Dead Weather with dad!

The man, the legend, Jack White.
This gal was hoola hooping like crazy, and to the beat of Girl Talk!
 
 
 The final act we saw, Girl Talk.  This was absolutely just pure fun!  Lola and I went up front for a bit and she loved it.

And finally…my creative juices got to flowing for a moment in time:
 
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Playing in mud
She marches through the muck with a smile as wide as the sky;
No care.
Squishy, oozy, watered-down dirt.
Music playing,
Wild Thing mucking about…
Happy Child!

Peace!