How I Habit Track in my Planner

Today I want to share with you something I’m doing in my journal/planner to help me become more mindful of some important areas surrounding my general health and well-being.

In my experience the most powerful tool you can use in areas of personal growth, development and behavioral change is mindfulness. I’ve written about mindfulness before (http://www.everydayjournalista.com/12-days-of-mindful-gratitude/). About how wonderful it is for helping us become more centered and present in our everyday lives.

I think that anytime you bring awareness to your feelings, thoughts and/or behaviours the more opportunities you have to not only create more meaning and value in your life but it can also allow you to identify areas that need more focus.

An area that I have wanted to become more mindful about for a long time is the amount of sleep I get. It’s an area that I have been deficient in for years and I know how important sleep is for my overall health and wellness. It’s when our body recovers, deals with stressors both physical and mental and it’s when our mind assimilates and rests from all the stimulation of our busy daily lives. I know all this to be true and yet I tend to feel like the next task on my to do list is more important than getting my 8 hours.

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Initially I was just tracking my mood using this beautiful mood mandala I created (Inspired by one I saw Boho Berry create). And while it was nice to look at and great at encouraging me to be more mindful of my mood and feelings throughout the day, it did nothing to show me any patterns or trends related to my mood.

In an attempt to convince myself that getting more sleep should be a priority I began to track both my sleep and my mood in a habit tracker in my planner. By tracking these two metrics daily I had hoped to find some relationships between my mood and the amount of sleep I was getting.

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I chose to track my sleep and mood on the same tracker using a separate line graph for each. This allowed me to clearly see each behavior on it’s own but also as they related to each other.

Again I found this layout nice to look at and easy to use. I was able to see more of a relationship between the two but I felt that visually it still wasn’t easy to identify patterns in my sleep and mood. During this month I also realized that I wanted to include the days of the week to see how that came in to play as well.

This is what I came up with.

mandala, mood tracker, habit tracking, everyday journalista, the everyday journalista, planning, Midori, TN, Journaling, Planner insertI’m really happy with how this tracker has worked for me and how it looks visually as well. It’s pretty easy to see a relationship here between my mood and the weekends right off the bat. I’m still trying to figure out the sleep piece but I think I see a pattern of my mood slipping following a couple of days of decreased sleep.

It’s been so much fun to do this tracker and it’s something that I continue to track each day of the month. The next step will be to see how my mood changes month over month and as the seasons change.

Thank you so much for stopping by. Please do tag me @theeverydayjournalista if you post any of your tracking creations on Instagram. I would love to see them!

 

 

 

Plan with Me: March Month at a Glance

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For this months plan with me I have decided to share my month at-a-glance layout.

I generally don’t put a lot of written material on these layouts other than birthdays and travel plans so it’s a great opportunity to focus on just being creative!

I had a lot of fun creating this layout. So grab some tea and come plan with me :).

 

Plan with Me: February

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I’m excited to share this months Plan with Me video with you! I am continuing to work on the best ways for me to film and present these videos to you. I feel like each time I film I get a little closer to what I would like to see. It’s a process, but one I am really enjoying and learning from.

Today’s video has a Valentine’s feel to it with lots of pink. I had a lot of fun creating this layout so I hope you enjoy :)

 

Making Magic Happen

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We have just returned from a trip of a lifetime to Disney World in Orlando. A few short years ago this trip would have been impossible for us. With a child who has multiple anxiety disorders as well as OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) I thought that a trip of this distance (we live in British Columbia, Canada) and magnitude would simply be too much.

I can’t tell you how proud I am of how far my son has come in these past two years. He has put in an immeasurable amount of work in his constant battle against anxiety and OCD. Disney Parks have also done an amazing job of providing support and tools for those with a variety of needs and disabilities. In this post I hope to share with you what I did to prepare for our trip and how Disney Parks support and systems helped make our time at Disney World truly magical.

 

A trip to Disney World, in my opinion, is not something to be done spontaneously. The more you plan the more you can get out of your visit. For us this trip was a year in the making.

PLANNING AHEAD:

A few months prior to our visit I really started to research our visit and what it was going to look like. In our case we were going to be in Orlando for a full 7 days. Considering the distance we were traveling and some of the other things we wanted to see and do while in Orlando (another post coming on that soon), as well as our experience at Disneyland last year, I thought that we would be able to do and see everything we wanted over a four-day period. To save a little money we decided not to purchase the park hopper, which allows you to visit multiple parks each day. We also took advantage of the Canadian Residence Special that Disney is currently offering.

We planned to spend one day at each of the 4 parks: Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, and Epcot. We visited one park each day and made the most of the full day at each location. For us it worked out amazingly and I would highly recommend this if you’re looking at ways to save. In my opinion it had no negative impact on our experience.

Next I started searching Disney World crowd calendars for the 4 days we would be in the area. This is a really helpful tool for figuring out what days may be the best for you to visit. I used Kenny The Pirate and found it to be really helpful.

ONCE YOU ARRIVE:

The first thing I did when we got into Orlando was to download the My Disney Experience app. Now keep in mind that you are able to book a FastPass+ up to 30 days ahead of your visit, but we did visit during a relatively quiet time of the year (January), and we had decided not book any character dining or other specific experiences as we had done that in Disneyland previously. If those are things that are a priority for you I would highly recommend booking those as far in advance as possible. For more information on FastPass+ click here.

DISABILITY ACCESS SERVICE (DAS):

I knew that this was something I wanted to look into getting for my son. Disney parks go above and beyond when it comes to helping those with special needs. I’m not just talking about those with physical disabilities (although they offer services for those people as well). I’m talking about a huge range of needs, including those with cognitive disabilities and mental illness. Without the support and services available with the DAS we would not have been able to experience Disney World. Disney really does an amazing job at making their parks magical and accessible for all children.

Wdwprepschool.com defines those who maybe eligible for the DAS as “anyone who has a disability or condition that necessitates waiting outside a traditional line environment”.

It is a bit of a process to get the pass set up but once that’s done you’re good to go at any of the 4 Disney parks. We knew this going in so we made sure we were at the park (we did Animal Kingdom on our first day) right when it opened in order to get everything set up.

 

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As I mentioned above we had pre-purchased our tickets so once we got through security we headed straight for Guest Relations. The amazing cast member who helped us was able to set up our park cards as well as the disability pass for my son (A very grateful shout-out to Amy-Lou at Guest Relations Animal Kingdom). She let me know about break areas in the case of over stimulation and provided me with a document called Attraction Details for Guests with Cognitive Disabilities.

 

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This invaluable tool goes through every attraction at each of the four parks identifying details that could be possible triggers (loud noises, smells, and elements of surprise, to name a few). It also includes information on ride duration and restraint type. I can’t express how helpful this was. I was able to use this tool, not only to help me select which rides were appropriate for my son, but also to help prepare him for those rides we selected. Not knowing what’s coming can be debilitating for him so letting him know that Star Tours – The Adventure continues has periods of darkness, 3D effects, and lasts 7 minutes was really effective in helping him prepare for what was to come.

DURING THE TRIP:

Every evening once we returned to our hotel and I got the kids to bed I spent some time planning our next day. I would review a park map for the park we were going to visit (I printed these prior to our trip), I looked through the Attraction Details Handbook and made a list of what we wanted to accomplish for the day. I would then book our FastPass+ and lay out a plan for what we would do around our FastPass+ times. I tried to plan our day to cover the rides around our FastPass+ times so we weren’t walking across the entire park for a FastPass+ ride time.

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With the DAS we were also able to get Return Times for rides. In order to obtain a Return Time for a ride at Disney World you must go to the FastPass+ entrance of the ride you wish to go on and arrange for a return time. My son’s card would be scanned in order to verify his designation and then we were given a card or verbal time to return within half an hour of the current time. Upon returning we would enter in through the FastPass+ line.

 

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For the most part, this system worked really well for us. A few times we returned to find that the FastPass+ line was really long. In these cases we chose to return later. This and the fact that you have to return at all can be an issue for some children.

In Disneyland they have designated areas you can go to get return times that are separate from the ride. This makes things a lot easier for those children who have a tough time leaving a ride without riding it and having to return later. For us, either my husband or myself would go and get the Return Time while the other kept the kids busy with some of the million other things there are to see and do at Disney World.

 

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So that’s what I did to plan before and during our trip to Disney World. If you have a child who struggles with a disability, be it physical or mental, I hope you will find this helpful in some way.

I’m planning a series of photo focused mini posts, one on each park that we visited highlighting our experience. So please keep an eye for that.

 

ONE MORE THING

There’s been a lot of talk in the media lately about mental illness. It’s a conversation that is long over due on a topic that affects a staggering amount of people on some level or another. As excited as I am about initiatives like #bellletstalk, change is slow and despite our best efforts there still exists a huge amount of stigma and misunderstanding when it comes to mental illness.

For those who struggle with OCD they may often be faced with the mainstream use of the term OCD. If you know someone who truly struggles with OCD you know that every thought and action can be a battle. What can be harder is that those who struggle with disorders like anxiety and OCD look just like you and me. Their war goes on inside, often in secret.

My point in all of this is that when you visit a Disney Park they get it! Whether you are limited physically or mentally they are there to support you and your children. Disney has allowed my family to have experiences and make lifelong memories, which without a doubt we would not have been able to make without the support and systems they have in place.

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Plan with Me: January

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2017 is here and for me it’s started as 2016 ended… busy busy busy. To keep everything organized and to help me keep my sanity I rely heavily on my planner.

For me though my planner is more than an agenda filled with appointments and things to do, it’s also a memoir of my life and a time capsule for keepsakes and special times.

I look forward to the times where I can sit down each week and spend time in my planner/journal. For me it’s a time to get creative, have fun, plan, reflect and be mindfully grateful for all I have in my life.

Below is my latest Plan with me video. So grab a cup of tea, your own planner or journal and let’s have some ‘you’ time.

 

 

12 Days of Mindful Gratitude

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December is here! This is my favorite time of the year and I am super excited for Christmas!

This time of the year can go by in a blur for many of us as we get caught up in holiday preparations and plans. It can be as stressful as it is exciting, with so much going on it can be easy to lose focus on what’s really important.

Regardless of how you celebrate the holidays it’s a wonderful time to be with those we love and reflect on the past year. A really great way to do that is to keep a gratitude journal. Keeping a gratitude journal is a wonderful way to become mindful of all the things we have to be thankful for in our lives.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to do a gratitude exercise before I would highly recommend it. It doesn’t have to be complicated and it doesn’t have to be forever.

 

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Being a bit of a journal and planning fanatic myself, I take great pleasure in the practice of sitting down and writing about any number of things, including one thing I am grateful for each day. I create a pretty layout at the beginning of each month where I will try to take a moment each evening to jot down something (usually just one thing) that I am grateful for on that given day.

 

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If I miss a day I don’t beat myself up about it, I just carry on the next day. At the end of the month I have a list of things big and small that I can revisit if I’m looking for a little boost. But more importantly each of those days of the month I have taken a moment to shift my focus to the present and reflect on the positive in my life.

What will happen is that you start to become more present and mindfully grateful in the moments as they are happening. It’s such a powerful thing to be truly present and in the moment when something simple, good, happy, positive, or meaningful is happening.

 

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Now is a wonderful time to challenge yourself to 12 days of mindful gratitude. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

 

  • Start small: Maybe 12 days of Christmas Gratitude.
  • Start simple: It’s doesn’t have to be 10 things each day or an elaborate journal entry. Start with 1-3 things you are grateful for each day and see how your mindset shifts.
  • Of course you can get yourself a little journal and create a heartfelt entry for each day or
  • You can create one page and number it from 1-30. Then take a few minutes each day and jot down one or two things (big or small) that you are grateful for each day.
  • Another option if writing it down isn’t for you is to simply set an alarm on your phone titled ‘what are you grateful for?’ When it goes off each day just take a moment to become mindful of that question.

Remember, it’s not always going to be kittens, rainbows and unicorns. Some days it may be hard to find something to be grateful for. It’s during those times that being grateful for even the smallest thing can spark real mindset change.

 

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Find the magic in everyday! Becoming mindful of positive things in our lives helps shift our focus onto those positive things. This in turn brings more positivity to our lives.

If you decide to give this a try I would love to hear from you :)

 

 

 

 

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I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to share my planning and journaling obsession on my blog. I have started several posts but a photo step by step just isn’t that exciting. So I thought I would try share it through a video.

Speaking of videos… I LOVE YouTube. I’m totally addicted to it. From beauty to planning, crafts and drawing. Whenever I need inspiration or want to learn about how to do something I head to YouTube.

I did it! I filmed my first YouTube video! I had so much fun making this and actually can’t wait to try it again.

It’s under 5 minutes in length so I’d love for you to check it out :). I hope it brings a little magic to your everyday :)

 

 

 

What’s Holding You Back?

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I have all these grandiose plans and ideas. So many things I want to do and be. I make lists and outlines and set goals. I get things organized, I get things started, and then… I slip or miss a deadline or there’s a delay or barrier to my progress… I start to loose momentum and before I know it I’m dead in the water!

Has this ever happened to you?

I become paralyzed by procrastination. The worst part for me is that I’m aware of it! I see that if I just start something, anything, I will continue to make progress and yet… I do nothing.

This blog is a perfect case in point. I have not posted in months and it all started with missing one deadline. When I tried to get back on track again I became overwhelmed with feelings of failure for not sticking to my posting schedule goal. Then I got stuck in the endless pit of excuses and reasons to not continue and I gave up! I quit.

My perfectionist personality would rather not do anything than do something less than perfect. I find at times that this ends up holding me back from not only trying new things but also from moving forward with goals or projects. 

Back to the blog…

Finally I came up with a topic for my next post. I took all my photos and had even started writing. Then as I was prepping to put it all together I was flooded with thoughts of doubt, uncertainty and fear of failure. I never ended up posting it.

And it got me to thinking… the only thing preventing my progress, my success, is ME!!

I recently heard a clip of Kate Winslett discussing that when she was young she was basically told that she would never get anywhere with acting. She didn’t let that or anything else distract or discourage her away from the path she wanted. It may have been true that she wasn’t that great at the time but she continued on and learned and developed and grew… she persevered!

What’s holding me back? What’s holding any of us back from achieving our goals? I believe it’s perseverance! Keep doing the work, keep moving forward in some capacity. It might not be great, it might not be what you would like your end product to be but it’s something, it’s a step closer to what you want, it’s progress!

So today I’m posting! It’s not perfect, it’s not ground breaking, but it’s something, it’s real, it’s progress, and with that I’m one step closer to my dream than I was yesterday.

 

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Anxiety- The Ripple Effect

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I write a lot about anxiety on this blog, specifically the generalized and separation anxiety that my son suffers from. What I have not really touched on is how this anxiety has affected the other members of our family and our family as a whole.

As heart breaking as it is to watch my son struggle with the constant bullying from his anxiety he is certainly not the only one in our home affected by it. The ripple effect of his worries impacts each person in our family differently as well as our family as a unit.

One thing I have learned over the course of dealing with anxiety and its associates (depression & OCD) is that they are extremely tricky and do whatever they can to sneak in and take over not only the sufferer’s life but also the lives of those around them.

As the parent of a child with anxiety I will often catch myself accommodating anxiety. It’s so easy to do and it often starts out as just a little thing here or there. Next thing you know you find yourself doing some ridiculous accommodation in an attempt to keep anxiety at bay, when the truth is, that is the exact thing that makes it stronger.

There were periods of time in the beginning when our family could not travel because of the impact it would have on my son. Anxiety had our family living in fear and it was running the show. I thought that we were trapped and that we would not be able to overcome the hold that anxiety had on our lives. I felt powerless and was afraid to fight back, that I would make things worse for my son.

In fact the opposite is true. For both my son and myself, awareness and education have been huge. Just the simple action of calling out anxiety or an anxious behaviour gives it less power. But the biggest thing for me as a mom was learning that pushing back at anxiety by allowing my son into a triggering situation, when done gradually and in cooperation with him, is actually the best way to fight back and beat anxiety. These two things have been huge in allowing my son to get back to being a kid and for our family to enjoy doing things together both at home and away.

It’s a daily effort and as with most things there are many ups and downs. Sometimes we are better at fighting against anxiety and sometimes anxiety starts to get the upper hand. My son truly is my hero. Each day he works so very hard to keep anxiety from creeping into his life so he can be who he is meant to be. I do what I can to try to support those efforts but anxiety in the everyday moments is often a battle he has to fight alone.

Perhaps the one person most impacted by my son’s anxiety is his younger sister. She has been witness to all the worries and questions and fear and appointments and therapies.

Day in and day out she is being exposed to fears and worries that she would never have come up with on her own. I was truly naive to think that she could be immune to such a strong environmental influence. When she started exhibiting signs and symptoms of the same anxieties my son has I right away assumed it was a learned behaviour, quickly dismissed her worries and pushed her to move on.

When things proceeded to get worse I started to think both my children were going to struggle with severe anxiety. Then of course comes the guilt and self blame.

But what I have since realized is that it actually doesn’t matter whether the behaviour is learned or whether there is a chemical imbalance causing the behaviour because the resulting anxiety is the same and so is how you should treat it.

I started with the same processes I went through with my son, although this time I was a little more well equipped. I started calling out her anxious behaviours because, again whether learned or not, the anxious feelings and symptoms she was experiencing were very real. We worked through anxiety help books like What to do when you worry too much’ by Dawn Huebner (a great book by the way!). And finally I just continued to encourage her to push back against the worries as well as gently pushing her away from where her worries wanted her to go. I would say that she turned the corner about three months ago. My daughter is slowly returning to her adventurous, outgoing, and risk-taking self.

I won’t deny that she still has some of her brothers anxieties whispering in her ear, and those have and will effect who she is as a person and how she moves about her world. But I think by facing it rather that trying to dismiss it my daughter and our family are learning to show anxiety who’s boss.

In closing I just want to add that as difficult as illnesses like anxiety are for those who struggle with them they can and do have an enormous impact on those closest to them and on families as a whole. Each person living with someone with a mental illness is dealing with it too on some level and those feelings are real and valid.

Thank you so much for taking the time to check out my blog. I really do appreciate it:)

Please do consider leaving a comment or question if you have one.

 

Until next time …

The Everyday Journalista

A Mickey Mouse-tastic Birthday

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When my daughter came to me asking for a Disney themed birthday party I was not at all surprised. We visited Disneyland for the first time a few months ago and she has literally fallen in love with anything and everything Disney. Who can blame her, after all, it is the most magical place on earth ;).

We narrowed it down to Mickey Mouse from Disney which was great because there is just so much available from party supply stores and even the dollar store with the Mickey Mouse theme.

The following are some photos of what we came up with. Hopefully this will give you a starting point or some inspiration if you are considering a Mickey Mouse party for your child.

Mickey Mouse, Mickey Mouse Birthday Party, Birthday Party Ideas, Mickey Mouse Cake, Mickey Mouse Table Decorations, Mickey Mouse Pinata, Mickey Mouse Goodie Bags, Menchies Bar Birthday, DIY Menchies PartyI painted this Mickey Mouse head on our front window. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out :).

roomIMG_5465Here’s a view from the inside. I just fell in love with these red and white polka dot balloons and bunting!

Mickey Mouse, Mickey Mouse Birthday Party, Birthday Party Ideas, Mickey Mouse Cake, Mickey Mouse Table Decorations, Mickey Mouse Pinata, Mickey Mouse Goodie Bags, Menchies Bar Birthday, DIY Menchies PartyMore polka dots! We made these Mickey Mouse serving platters by attaching two smaller black plates to a bigger one. Easy peasy and the kids thought is was awesome.

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Another angle of the window.

Mickey Mouse, Mickey Mouse Birthday Party, Birthday Party Ideas, Mickey Mouse Cake, Mickey Mouse Table Decorations, Mickey Mouse Pinata, Mickey Mouse Goodie Bags, Menchies Bar Birthday, DIY Menchies PartyThis back drop not only was amazing at helping to create the Mickey Mouse feel but I also used it for one of the party activities. We pulled the table forward and then I held a ‘photo shoot’ with Mickey, the birthday girl and all their friends. It was a lot of fun!

Finding the Magic in Everyday Finding the Magic in Everyday

For the cake, I just baked two regular eight inch rounds and then cut out two circles from one of the rounds for the ears. Simple icing and then edged the cake with these super yummy white and milk chocolate Kit Kat bars. The kids could not wait when they saw it!

Mickey Mouse, Mickey Mouse Birthday Party, Birthday Party Ideas, Mickey Mouse Cake, Mickey Mouse Table Decorations, Mickey Mouse Pinata, Mickey Mouse Goodie Bags, Menchies Bar Birthday, DIY Menchies PartyThis is a cake I did for part of the ‘family’ party we had the next day. But I wanted to show you the pinata that we used for the ‘friend’ party that is in the background. We were all so excited about the Mickey Mouse Pinata but I have to say I was really disappointed with it. As luck would have it the very first string that was pulled was the one that opened the bottom area up for all the candy to fall out. But nothing fell out! Each child had a turn and pulled the ribbons and… nothing. I finally had to grab the pinata and rip the bottom out more and dump the candy out. Then of course the chaos ensued :). I felt the pinata itself did not work as it was supposed to :(. Of course the kids still got the candy so I think they were fine with it, lol.

Mickey Mouse, Mickey Mouse Birthday Party, Birthday Party Ideas, Mickey Mouse Cake, Mickey Mouse Table Decorations, Mickey Mouse Pinata, Mickey Mouse Goodie Bags, Menchies Bar Birthday, DIY Menchies PartyFor the goodie bags I found these neat popcorn type boxes from the dollar store. The kids had the candy from the pinata and we also filled them with a Mickey Mouse themed giant eraser, Mickey and friends pencil, tape and noise maker. The kids also took home one of these Mickey and Friends note books shown in the foreground.

Mickey Mouse, Mickey Mouse Birthday Party, Birthday Party Ideas, Mickey Mouse Cake, Mickey Mouse Table Decorations, Mickey Mouse Pinata, Mickey Mouse Goodie Bags, Menchies Bar Birthday, DIY Menchies PartyOn the second day of birthday celebrating we had some family over for a Menchies Bar Party. My daughter loves Menchies! She is lactose intolerant and this is one of the ice cream/ fro-yo places she can go because they always offer a diary free option. I bot the Fro-yo, Sherbet and a couple of the harder to find toppings at Menchies and found the rest in the bulk section of my local grocery store. This was a ton of fun and I would definitely recommend it. Menchies was really helpful as well!

I hope you enjoyed this post and perhaps picked up an idea or two if you are considering a Mickey Mouse themed Party for your child. If you have any questions or comments you can leave them here or you can also find me on Instagram @theeverydayjournalista.

Hope you are having a Mouse-tastic Day! :)

 

 

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