MSCM – Ireland Trip

Top of the mornin’ to ya. 

A lot of people have asked me about my trip to Ireland with my graduate program cohort. Unfortunately, when I’m asked how it was or what we did, I have a hard time putting into words all of the stops we made, or what it specifically was that we learned about. Primary reason being we experienced a lot and we learned a lot.

I constantly found myself being quiet (at peace) through out our trip, because of all of the inspirational people and stories we encountered. These were people we met during tours, interactions at a pub, and designated learning sessions.

Ireland, as a whole has been through so much, yet they are the most positive and collective group of people I’ve ever had the pleasure of interacting with. The peace I felt during my time there, was similar to the feeling you may have gotten when you leave a really good sermon at church. A sermon that just struck you to the core and got your attention; or the feeling you get when you’re open to hearing and experiencing new opinions and insights – a total state of learning.

If you’re at the pub grabbing a pint, they immediately know you’re not from there and will make sure you leave feeling welcomed.

Their music and dance culture is amazing.

and yes, their Guinness does taste different, better.

So with that, this is my attempt to summarize my 8 day trip with some of the most amazing and motivational people I’ve ever met.

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Fresh off the plane.

Everyone who knows me, knows I am NOT a morning person. BUT, I got it together this week (for the most part) and was really excited when we hit the Irish ground (I immediately started taking photos, hence the photo from a moving bus).

Our first stop was Monasterboice Round Tower and High Crosses.

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Area surrounding the Celtic Crosses.

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The crew filing in and zipping up.

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Area surrounding the Celtic Crosses pt. II.

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Area surrounding the Celtic Crosses pt. III

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Inside the Cemetery.

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Beautiful farm house nearby.

Crumlin Road Gaol

Our next stop was the Crumlin Road Gaol (prison), (I’m not going to go into the history lesson of this, you can click the link to read more about it). BUT it was cool, and had a really positive spin on their atrium of the prison.

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Here she is.

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Underneath the Crumlin. This passageway would take the prisoners over to the Courthouse.

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Tam being artistic.

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Our tour guide really had our attention. Pretty sure he was telling a ghost story here.

This next photo kind of got me. Our tour guide took us into a room, which was the final living quarters for a prisoner who was sentenced to death. Prisoners who entered this room were never seen coming out of it.

They would spend weeks in the room secluded with stationed guards until their execution day. The room had a trap door built into it and when that day came, the guards were able to flip the prisoner around, strap them to the noose, and then they would drop to their death, all within seconds and no warning.

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The last thing a prisoner sentenced to death would see.

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Mediation Northern Ireland

The next day, we got to spend time with some professionals in the CM industry. Picking their brains in the peace process following The Troubles, the role of the community during the process, as well what family mediation looks like from the Irish perspective.

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Beautiful Lauren

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Joe being suave.

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Here is that “picking of the professional brain”, I was talking about

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Streets of Belfast ❤

Peace walls

These walls border the Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods. If you want a really good info documentary look up the Art of Conflict on Netflix. It provides a lot of good context about these murals and their possible future.

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This mural is a reminder of those who were involved in the 1981 Hunger Strike

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Looking into the Protestant side of town through their wall  – There are literally walls that separate the different communities in N. Ireland.

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View from the Stormont building.

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Area surrounding the Carrickfergus Castle.

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Ph D. Dave – inside Carrickgergus.

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City of Carrickfergus

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City of Carrickfergus pt. II

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I can’t really put into words how SMALL this place made me feel. I could have sat here all day long BUT, it was raining and very wind/ cold… AND we had other places to be, so I couldn’t literally sit there all day long. 😉

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Giants Causeway pt. II

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Giants Causeway pt. III

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Giants Causeway pt. IV

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Giants Causeway pt. V

If you are ever in Derry – this museum is a MUST.

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Inside the Museum of Free Derry pt. II

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The City of Legend-Derry 🙂

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Free Derry Corner.

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The most awesome tour guide – Garvin

This man, was able to speak to us about his personal Bloody Sunday experience, without any hatred or upset in his voice. He had so much positivity that he made you want to hug anyone who had ever done you wrong.

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View from atop of Derry’s walls.

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Inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral

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St. Patrick’s Cathedral

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Gorgeous architecture. Gothic and Romanesque arches 😉

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Phoenix Park – 1,750 acres of pure green!

So, hopefully this gives you some idea of the experiences and stops we made in Ireland.

With that,

and the rest of the day to you”. 

Kellie & Shannon <3

Okay y’all, these guys are getting married in April. I don’t normally do blog posts this soon after taking the actual photos… (and I also have not done a blog post in like a year, but we aren’t going to talk about that) I just can’t help myself.

These guys took Jonathan and I to the spot where they got engaged last weekend for some engagement photos. Here are the results. Hopefully you can look at these and see the love and friendship they share. Its kind of awesome.

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Beauty Queen.

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I love foot shots.

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Just straight love.

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A big thank you to my sweet husband who goes on these adventures with me and helps me get shots like these two ^. I was struggling with getting the exposure right on these and he was able to expose for the sky and get these great silhouette shots. 🙂

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I hate that we are going to miss your wedding, but you two are going to have such a magical day.

Kimberly’s baby shower – 2015.06.20

A few weeks ago one of my good friends and I threw a baby shower, for our good friend, Kimberly.

And I do say, it was a success. The food was great, the Gigi’s cupcakes didn’t melt, and all of the beverage dispensers worked with out leaking (in my opinion that makes a good party).

Here are some of the photos from that day.

Cheese straws, can’t have a southern event, without cheese straws.
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You want to hear something crazy? This fruit dip is SO delicious, and its only sour cream and brown sugar.
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A big thanks to the mommy being honored, for doing all the signage, because she has pretty hand writing. 🙂 DSC_0008 7

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Centerpieces.
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“Shower”, get it?
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“Guest book”, where guests sign baby Samantha’s piggy bank. 🙂
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Favor table. DSC_0036 29

I love taking photos of center pieces… DSC_0042 34DSC_0044 36Can’t wait to meet this baby girl!! Hopefully this week!

November 1st – My Best Friend’s Wedding

This past November my best friend got married, I was fortunate enough to be asked to be one of 2 Matrons of Honor, and a photographer.

I’ve known Carlie for almost 20 years and have been biffles with her for almost 10.

We’ve been through so much together, including her listening to me sob when I thought my husband wasn’t ever going to propose to me; to her sobbing thinking she’d never find her soul mate.

Well, she did and here are photos of the day.
(Which, do not ever agree to be a photographer and a bridesmaid, unless you absolutely love the bride. That junk be cray 🙂 )

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I honestly didn’t think we would find THIS dress. Carlie searched and searched… several visits to different boutiques/ stores and I’m so glad she fell in love with this one. I might have strangled her if she hadn’t. We all fell in love with it the moment she put it on.

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Joe was super excited about his wedding day shoes. haha.

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One thing you should know about Joe, is how awesome his laugh is. Its loud, but it brings you right in, to be on his level. You might not know what exactly he’s laughing at, but you’ll be laughing because he’s laughing.

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I walked in on Carlie and Mary hugging and I did my usual ” DON’T MOVE” scream.

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Um, she’s opening “Hot Hands”, and thats because it was like…. 40 degrees on her wedding day. haha We were putting these things around our bouquets so we could stay warm. 🙂

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I had to make him laugh, otherwise I think he might have died.

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First Looks are the best.

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Everyone approves.

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Joe can make this girl giggle.

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Hey Pook, you found your soul mate :).

2014 Dragon Con – thousands of nerds in one place

This was my first year ever going to Dragon Con, and let me just say it was awesome. It had that feeling of being with likeminded friends, except you knew no one but everyone was still smiling and gawking at all the creative and well done costumes.

I mean, WELL DONE.

The kind of well done, that, you should dress like that everyday or at least once a week. Its something to be proud of, especially if you made the costume.

Its just really comforting to know, that I like to dress up and pretend to be one of my favorite characters, and so do other people. Lots of other people.

Here’s some stuff from the weekend.

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Zelda girl waiting in line for SIR PATRICK STEWART, which BTW he was such a sweet man. I wish I could have hugged him, and have him tell me a story.

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Happy Grieco.
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Star Lord.

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Nerd Xing.

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Rev. Newlin dancing on Lafayette.

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My only complaint were all the girl Lokis. SO MANY, SO STUPID. Sorry, not sorry…

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Wolverine.

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Multi-passsssss….

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Gandalf!

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Love.

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Waiting in line for the BSG panel… my heart was oh, so, so happy.

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That moment Mary McDonnell walks out in her Laura Roslin suit and is SO excited about it.

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Best part of the day, is yelling at the top of my lungs “SO SAY WE ALL”, led by Colonel Tigh. Tears every time I replay the video.

2nd Shooting – Bacon Wedding

There’s a lot to be said about being a photographer, & what your style is – or what it may become… Not sure where to start on this post, but I guess I’ll start by saying back in October I was asked to help out in second shooting a wedding with my best friend’s sister Stefanie Arnette Photography.

It was BEAUTIFUL. Sunny, great temperature, & you could just feel the love everywhere.

Going through this day though, as a #2 made me sort of realize, when I shoot weddings, or any kind of event, I’m not in it for hitting every pose on the,”TOP 15 SHOTS YOUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER HAS TO HIT”… I’m in it for me.

Selfish, right?Let me explain…

Weddings in general can be stressful, photographing a wedding, is doubly stressful. Your bride has been perusing Pinterest & posting wedding crap for months, if not years (most likely, she had all these poses picked out BEFORE there was even the potential of a wedding) & you are expected to hit all these poses/ moments that have a 7/10 chance of not happening.

You can’t capture a shot of the bride and groom in a field with a horse, if your venue is not, indeed, in a field, with a horse.
That makes sense to everyone right?

So having this HOT list of of poses you want, is a little…. inflexible. A wedding day is a timelined day from the moment you wake up until the moment you get to your hotel/ sleeping arrangement; and most likely, everything on that timeline will get pushed back 10-30 minutes. Someone’s hair will not be done in time, a family member will get lost getting to the venue, or the bride might have a breakdown and need a moment to recoup and get her face back together.
THINGS HAPPEN.

That’s what I love about weddings! THINGS HAPPENING.

Its not perfect, its a mess, and photographers get paid to document all of the ups & downs. Its beautiful.
You’re a paid fly on the wall. That’s what I mean by, “in it for me”. I’m a people watcher, and I love finding little moments that the bride and groom (& their family), might be too preoccupied to notice; so when they get their CD they can look at it and say, “I didn’t see that happen!” or “How sweet of them to notice this!”.
Sometimes a single photographer or the primary shooter, you don’t have the luxury to take time to notice all of these little moments, because you’ve got so much pressure to get these scheduled shots. Plus, it takes away from the photographer’s ability to free form/compose as they go or get a feel of their subject’s personality. Which, in my opinion is what you want; someone who can get to know you, without having to talk to you for HOURS.

My wedding photographer caught a moment between my grandparents – where they were praying together and holding hands and I am SO thankful she did. It’s probably one of the best photos from the whole day, simply because no one else noticed it but her. Since my wedding, I’ve lost both of my maternal grandparents, & that photo is something I will always cherish of them.

So, for me, I’m not about the poses or the perfect shot; I’m about the documentation and experience.

All of that to say, I really enjoyed being a fly on the wall for this sweet couple. I got a snippet glimpse into their life, without having to talk to them very much, and all I can say is that their life together will be full of love, devotion & adoration.

Here are some of my favorite snips from that day:

First look with a girl’s daddy.

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DSC_0059 21The details of her dress.
DSC_0079 24 After I yelled at the bride….. “DON’T MOVE!” 😉DSC_0105 28 DSC_0108 31She got excited about seeing the lady to the left of the frame, and I immediately took her photo, but I got caught. 🙂
DSC_0112 33 DSC_0123 38 Conversations. DSC_0132 43There was a lot of hugging this day, this is only one of many.
DSC_0139 46 DSC_0155 51 Here’s another greeting and then its hug. DSC_0176 52 DSC_0178 53 DSC_0210 58 DSC_0212 59 This sweet moment. DSC_0217 61DSC_0216 60 I love the way people look at the person, who made them laugh. DSC_0218 62 This little girl, dancing her life away. ALONE. You go girl! DSC_0288 71 This little guy walked around the wedding alone for the majority of the day… but I kept my eye on him because he looked like he was really interesting. And then he did this. haha. DSC_0310 73 Mother & son hugs. DSC_0325 76 A bridesmaid who got tickled with herself after she gave the groom a funny face. DSC_0369 82 DSC_0405 85 DSC_0435 86Apparently, I’m a sucker for ringlets. DSC_0465 - Version 2 93This is just all over sweet. The redheaded flower girl got stung by a bee on the way down the isle. 😦
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Northern California – Trip to Tehama Angus Ranch (June 2014)

This June the Avrit side of the family had a family reunion, and we were lucky enough to be able to join… I had been dying for another California visit so, needless to say, I was so thankful we could go.

First stop, Sonoma, CA to visit Grandma & Grandpa. DSC_0698 2 DSC_0702 3 They have a loaded garden. Watermelon, corn, lemons & oranges. Grandma makes to die for jellies, curds and jams… DSC_0722 17 Next stop, Fenton’s. If you’ve seen Up, you’ve seen Fenton’s, you just might not have known it. 🙂 DSC_0737 29 and no, i did NOT eat that entire ice-cream.

(I’ve been eating better, working out regularly… and man, seeing this really makes me see the difference.)
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Headed north!

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So, once we got to the ranch and parked, we were walking towards the house and we got buzzed by a little plane! It was Jonathan’s uncle, just having some fun. I think we could see him laughing at our faces from the ground.

Within the next 20 minutes, Jonathan was up there flying around.

This is their take off.
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I didn’t feel brave enough to go flying until the next day and his cousin took me up, and I cannot describe how amazing it is to see the world like that. Probably as close as you can get to being a bird, without parachuting or hang glinding.

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Piggy – pig.

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Jonathan’s aunt was determined to get me to try all sorts fruit this week, and I ended up loving all of it! I was even eating blackberries with milk and sugar. SO good.

Nothing i’ve seen this far in my life is as pretty as Northern California. Especially the fruit.

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Dinner! Outside! DSC_0867 101

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We can’t eat dinner outside in the south…. you will get eat up with mosquitos, and yes, the phrase is, “eat up”.

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Grill talk.

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Andrew loves Michael.

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We had a mini-family reunion, here. DSC_0936 138

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Can someone please make this famous photo? I love this so much! ^^

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After dinner we went four-wheeling, my love.

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bruddas! (Scaring the cows)….

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moooooooo!

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Madeleine on a four-wheeler for the first time. She just kept screaming. 🙂

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A’mond trees.

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Couples Shower – 06/12 for Zack & Chelsea

In honor of one of my best friends’ wedding coming up on Saturday, I figured I’d post about her couples shower we threw back in June…

Better late than never.

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Chelsea has a love for white and gold. Especially fake animals. 🙂

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We had a mild fiasco with the cute drink dispenser to the right… hence the pitcher. Not only was it just leaking, it was a steady stream of fluid.

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Super cute cheese board.

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YOU’RE GETTING MARRIED !

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Yea, she’s a diva.

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And Bre brought Gavin!!!

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So cute!!

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A great round of corn hole, and apparently you want to be on Sarah’s team. She wins.

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Happy Shiny People.

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When the game gets rough… Brenden takes off his shoes.

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I told you, she wins!