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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay, Im pretty new to vegetarianism. I only started a few months ago and am still learning the ins and outs myself. My husband has been incredibly supportive and I think he is seriously considering going vegetarian as well. For now, I am content being a lacto-ovo vegetarians, though I eat very little dairy. I am having a couple issues mostly dealing with other peoples constant interference in our choices. We have three sons.<br><br>
Our oldest is 9 and was originally not happy about not getting meat with dinner every night. He has gradually moved away from skim milk onto unsweetened soy and appreciates my attempt to give him normal food using meat substitutes. I dont particularly like them, but in order to accommodate a traumatized nine year old, I offer them about once a week. At this age, I dont expect to make his food choice for him but I can make sure that his choices are healthier than the high refined carb, crap diet we had before. Just a couple weeks ago he wanted to try to be a vegetarian. I told him that this would mean we would have to pack his lunch for school each day to which prospect he was thrilled. His school nurse sent home a note saying that she was concerned that Isaac didnt have a protein source with his lunch. About twice times a week he takes a boiled egg, though he doesnt eat the yolk. His diet consists of things like peanut butter and real fruit jelly sandwiches on whole wheat, fruits, veggies, leftovers from the kitchen, some cheese, corn tortillas, polenta (he really likes that), and nuts. He also still buys milk at the cafeteria but he asked if he can take soy. If I find a container to keep it cool, I will probably let him.<br><br>
My next son is three and here is where Im starting to run into trouble. Generally, Ive noticed that young children dont eat a lot of meat. Sure, they may really like Micky Ds chicken nuggets, but lets be honest, thats not really meat. Therefore, I have been trying to transition him to a vegetarian diet. He hasnt complained a bit. Since kids like simple foods where they know exactly what they are eating, a typical dinner for him would be a piece of whole wheat bread or beans or some carbohydrate offering, leftover vegetable pieces from the salad I make, i.e. pepper, tomato, cucumber, carrot pieces, a piece of white cheese, about once a week an egg, a glass of water (occasionally apple juice) and a banana or other piece of fruit. He snacks on trail mix, fruit, veggies and yogurt. His daycare provider is constantly harping at me that he is going to be malnourished. She says that he needs more protein because he is too skinny. Honestly, hes not overweight, but certainly not underweight either. He just isnt like the rest of the obese boys in her care. She gives him things like chicken nuggets, bbq beef, hotdogs, sloppy joes and is cranky that he wont eat them. Im not going to interfere in her food program because its only once a day and other than this issue, she is an incredibly good sitter who shares our values and our faith. Its worth every penny we pay her. However, she actually called a dietician friend of hers and asked her to call me and talk about Noahs diet. Im of the opinion that Noah doesnt eat all that meat because its, first of all, not real meat and really salty. He isnt used to all that sodium and it doesnt taste good to him and secondly because kids generally know what their bodys need instinctually. If they are offered a large variety of healthy foods consistently, they will pick what they need. Obviously, you need to pay attention to their choices and make sure they are getting some of everything, but its by this paying attention that Ive noticed that he eats different things throughout the week. Some nights all he eats are veggies, others bread and still others more cheese. As further proof that I think this diet is working, he hardly ever gets sick and has tremendous energy.<br><br>
My third son is four months old. He is breast-fed, which means he eats what I do. Once again, all I hear is that I need protein or hes going to get sick. Because I was concerned that he get what he needed, I have taken him to the doctor every two weeks since starting the vegetarian diet. Since going vegetarian, his weight gain has been better, his color is beautiful and he seems to need to eat less frequently which leads me to believe my milk is better. The doctor is in agreement and recently released me to see him on a regular schedule. He is confident that Ethan is getting what he needs and more. Once again, outsiders are constantly butting in, telling me the same old tired things (only three months in and I already think this stuff is tired.) Ethan is like my other two, tall and skinny - on the low end of the weight chart and the high end of the height chart.<br><br>
In addition to my kids, Ive also got people from my church going nuts. Im Roman Catholic and was asked to share a testimonial at a retreat for CCD teachers. I wrote about my choice to become a vegetarian and how it was very much a faith based decision. I didnt knock meat eaters, just explained that my conscience would no longer allow me to support the meat industry as it is currently being run. I was actually told that I was not to share that with my students as it would be too controversial for them. That God didnt want us to be vegetarians, he wanted us to eat both and that there was nothing wrong with a hamburger in Gods eyes. (Im thinking they missed the point, but Im not trying to start a debate.) I resigned from CCD teaching and will not be doing it this year. I absolutely do not want to leave my faith, but once again, does it really have to be one or the other...seriously? God must look at us Christians and just shake his head...we really do miss the point sometimes.<br><br>
The worst part is, the conversation always ends with, I dont care if you are a vegetarian, but dont force your beliefs on me. Are you kidding? I havent forced anyone to do anything, Ive simply asked to be allowed to eat what I want and have my kids eat what I think they should eat. Apparently, Im forcing my beliefs on them because I dont take them to McDonalds twice a week. Incredible!<br><br>
Has anyone else encountered this stuff? What are some tactful ways to deal with it without there being a doubt that you are not caving? Im seriously afraid some of these people are going to call the health department on me for child abuse or report me to the local diocese...Im only slightly joking.<br><br>
Mackenzie
 

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Yes, last night at a friend's Easter BBQ. I don't celebrate Easter, and a friend had invited me to his family's BBQ. I ran to the store to buy some tofu dogs and such, so that I could slip them on the grill and they would at least "look" like meat, but alas, all stores fail and were closed for Christian holidays. What I did was go home and marinate a brick of tofu and had it grilled for 10 mins and ate that. Had a heated discussion with one of my friend's uncles that I never met. He said he couldn't believe I thought I had the right to show up to a family function of theirs and preach veganism (I didn't whatsoever, and I only said the word vegan once when I said, "I'm not eating the meat or egg salad because I'm vegan.") My friend's aunt(the uncle's wife) then said she "never met a person that does not eat meat." That's right, live in your bubble people.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Mackenzie</strong> <a href="/forum/post/2875406"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
His school nurse sent home a note saying that she was concerned that Isaac didnt have a protein source with his lunch. About twice times a week he takes a boiled egg, though he doesnt eat the yolk. His diet consists of things like peanut butter and real fruit jelly sandwiches on whole wheat, fruits, veggies, leftovers from the kitchen, some cheese, corn tortillas, polenta (he really likes that), and nuts. He also still buys milk at the cafeteria but he asked if he can take soy. If I find a container to keep it cool, I will probably let him.</div>
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So much of your post is confusing to me! What part of the county do you live in that you're getting this much attention to your diet? I didn't even get lunch half the time in grade school because my parents never packed it, I didn't have time to make it myself, and I didn't have any money. The school nurses never paid attention. It's amazing to me that a school nurse is actually looking at the <i>content</i> of his lunch?! Especially when so many school lunches consist of pure junk already, and the school system is so overburdened by children with real medical and emotional needs - how in the world are they paying attention to what's inside a lunch bag?<br><br>
I'm sorry you're having such a tough time of it. You probably would have hoped that the church people would understand and support your compassionate reasons for going veg.<br><br>
You sound like a good, thoughtful parent. I think that with good parents a child is not "traumatized" by a diet change so I wouldn't put that on yourself. There are lots of children who are really traumatized in the world - being raised in a healthy family which changes their diet out of compassion does not rank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I live in a small town in Western Nebraska. Isaac’s lunch was flagged because they eat at a table with their homeroom teacher. His teacher was paying attention because Isaac started taking his lunch and he noticed that there was never a “meat” sandwich and asked the nurse about it. Kids still show their plates to the teacher when they want to be done and he says whether or not the meal has been properly eaten. He has notes on all the kids food allergies and they double check every day that no one eats what they can’t. (Oh, did I mention it’s a Catholic school <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)"> ) No junk food allowed, though the commodities they use in the school lunches are considered healthy. Honestly, this is the way of life around here. Mostly, it’s wonderful if a bit provincial. It’s also the heart of cattle country.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The word “traumatized” was tongue and cheek, hence the quotation marks. In a child’s mind, these little changes are traumatizing whereas to an adult they aren’t so much. I’m sorry if it didn’t translate well.
 

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Oh my goodness! I can feel some of your pain so I give you a big ol' internet hug!<br><br>
You sound like a very thoughtful and patient person and a great parent at that. I live in East Texas around lots of farms and bbq joints so I can relate. I do not go to church, (believe in God but was raised in church and organized religion does not agree with me for the most part), but I can imagine the grief I would get if I did go to church. So much of the culture and social (fellowship) is centered around food. I can imagine how tough it would be.<br><br>
Don't let anybody bully you or make you feel stupid. I just don't get why it's such a big deal for somebody to not eat meat. Those 4 little words seem to freak people out so much.<br><br>
Good luck. :- )
 

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several of the thing you mentioned are what i use in my diet for protein, beans, peanut butter and nuts in general, vegetables, grains. i don't know if you've done this but i'd read up on veg*n sources of protein and some of the more popular vitamins and next time anyone questions your kids' diet just list off a few vegetarian sources of whatever the nutrient in question is.<br>
someone is always going to tell you you're endangering your child because you're not feeding him properly but they won't be able to name a single protein source besides meat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks so much for the support. I have noticed, contrary to what my church friends say, that vegetarians are a lot more accepting of religious devotion than “Christians” are to vegetarianism. What a commentary on Christians. I’m so sorry it’s that way. My faith is so important to me and it breaks my heart that my community is so legalistic. I just keep telling myself that God doesn’t want me to leave, just set a better example. If I ever don’t, please call me on it.<br><br>
What a great idea about the protein sources. I know very little which is mainly why I keep a few farm fresh eggs in our diet - as a stop gap. I have been told that it’s not as hard as everyone makes it out to be. A lot of press is given to replacing protein with carbs, but it seems to me that even though my carb intake has gone up, none of it is refined anymore. Also, I have lost a ton of bad weight that was causing all sorts of health problems. I supposed if you replaced your protein with junk food you could have the opposite affect. A strictly protein weight loss plan has always sounded absurd to me because even if you lose weight, you are going to have how many other health problems, starting with cholesterol. Our doctor is from South Africa and doesn’t have a heavy meat diet himself. He is very supportive of my diet, but wants to make sure that I don’t get myself or my children in trouble.<br><br>
I am not quite ready to go vegan but it’s kind of a long term goal. I think it’s important to keep familial cohesion a little bit to. A mom who eats no meat but will still make mac & cheese once in awhile is essential <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">.<br><br>
Ironically, one of the main supporters of our vegetarian diet are my parents. My dad runs a family farm and has a few head of cattle. They have friends who have chickens and eggs (which is where we get our eggs). He and my mom only eat meat that they raise themselves. My mom frequently says that if she didn’t have those cows she would have to be a vegetarian too because there is no way she would eat anything in a grocery store. She has also watched me go from being overweight to spot on and witnessed the one and only time I have been successful at breastfeeding a child. Granted, my diet before was atrocious, but still.
 

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Mackenzie, you are one awesome mum and I wish I had met more Christians like you in my life so far, my view of Christianity would probably be a whole lot different <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)"><br><br>
Just make sure to read up on nutrition so that you can always reply to the nurse's concerns calmly, but surely. You are concerned with your child's health and you're not sitting there doing nothing, you take care of it. That's what you're supposed to do and it sounds like you're doing a great job! Beans, legumes, whole grains and soy are great sources of protein (I'm listing the vegan ones here, since he already gets eggs). If you cover all the essential amino acids (which is totally possible with plants, but again, dairy and eggs contribute in this case as well) then the body can synthesize all the proteins it needs <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)"> And quinoa is a complete protein anyway. (It's also yummy!)<br><br>
I wish you all the best for this! And I'm sure that no one but God has anything to tell you about your relationship with him <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/wink3.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=";)"> I'm certain he loves you for doing so much to bring more compassion into the world.
 

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anyone that talks to me that way gets the medical tounge lashing of their worst nightmare, which is designed to make them look like a complete dumbass. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">. regarding your nurse, i'd have some real fun with that situation <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">.
 

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btw, i find if you say you're doing it for health, that generally ends any question. i'm not sure who you're interacting with, but you might give that a shot. then again, i'm ready to discuss my work experiences, etc. and i've probably got a bit of an attitude on top of that.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Mackenzie</strong> <a href="/forum/post/2875406"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
The worst part is, the conversation always ends with, I dont care if you are a vegetarian, but dont force your beliefs on me. Are you kidding? I havent forced anyone to do anything, Ive simply asked to be allowed to eat what I want and have my kids eat what I think they should eat. Apparently, Im forcing my beliefs on them because I dont take them to McDonalds twice a week. Incredible!<br><br>
Has anyone else encountered this stuff? What are some tactful ways to deal with it without there being a doubt that you are not caving? Im seriously afraid some of these people are going to call the health department on me for child abuse or report me to the local diocese...Im only slightly joking.</div>
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It will get better.<br>
I promise.<br><br>
First, you're absoltuely right about how ridiculous people can be. You're not forcing anyone to do anything. In our society, there are so many animal-eating influences that it's impossible to force anyone to go vegan, even tiny children. My son is not even a year and half old and already someone sneaked cheese into his mouth! Another person, who knows I disapprove has fed him a turkey sandwich and other meat. I am vegan and have tons of vegan friends and family members who support me, yet it's still difficult to raise a child as a vegan. There are just so many other influences. And that's OK for now. It's (probably) not going to kill him to eat a tiny bit of cheese or turkey every now and then. And when he gets older he will (probably) decline those items himself because he just loves animals so much and he'll know he has vegan alternatives.<br><br>
People have some really weird reactions to vegetarians and vegans. I grew up vegetarian so I know. A small number of nonveg people will literally try to trick you into eating animals. They are just so curious and they want to see how you'll react. It's really very bizarre how rude some people are about it. As you are veg longer and as you meet more vegetarians in real life, you'll find ways to handle these situations - ways that suit your personality and your lifestyle.<br><br>
I recommend that you read up on vegetarian nutrition for children. Know the facts and the resources so you can cite them easily and quickly if anyone asks. For the older children, teach them this stuff, too so they can tell their friends and other people when it's asked. Here are some resources:<br>
- Vegan Health page on vegan teens: <a href="http://veganhealth.org/articles/teens" target="_blank">http://veganhealth.org/articles/teens</a><br>
- Keeping Kids Healthy section on vegan kids: <a href="http://www.keepkidshealthy.com/welcome/treatmentguides/veganchildren.html" target="_blank">http://www.keepkidshealthy.com/welco...nchildren.html</a><br>
- The American Dietetic Association recommendations for feeding vegan and vegetarian infants and toddlers: <a href="http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=8060" target="_blank">http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=8060</a>.<br>
- The ADAs guide to important vegetarian nutrient sources (for all ages): <a href="http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6374" target="_blank">http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6374</a><br>
- The American Dietetic Associations recommendations for getting children and teens to eat their fruits and veggies (for ALL children, not just vegan and vegetarian children): <a href="http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6749" target="_blank">http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6749</a><br>
- Vegan Health info page on vegan pregnancy and children: <a href="http://veganhealth.org/articles/preginfchil" target="_blank">http://veganhealth.org/articles/preginfchil</a><br>
- The Vegetarian Resource Groups paper on vegetarian and vegan kids: <a href="http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/kids.htm" target="_blank">http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/kids.htm</a><br>
- Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicines paper called Vegetarian Diets: Advantages for Children <a href="http://www.pcrm.org/health/veginfo/vegetarian_kids.html" target="_blank">http://www.pcrm.org/health/veginfo/vegetarian_kids.html</a><br><br>
You can print most of these sources out and put them into a binder to give to a school nurse or daycare provider. They might welcome the information, actually.<br><br>
I'd also recommend always having some snacks on hand. That way you can pull something out for you to eat or your kids to eat whenever someone offers something that's not vegetarian. Even if you're not hungry, it can be good just to whip out the energy bar or bag of nuts and say, "Oh, thanks but we have some food." That way they can see you're not starving.<br><br>
Another thing is to find ways to work around the stuff like McDonald's. For example, you can always buy the kid's meal toys separately and then add it to the lunch you already packed for your kid when they go to McDonald's for girl scouts or something. If there's ever an option to go to Taco Bell or Subway, that's so much better for veg kids. Try to suggest it when others say McDonald's (or pick a McD's that has a Taco Bell nearby).<br><br>
Again, it WILL get better. it just takes time and practice <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>papayamon</strong> <a href="/forum/post/2876036"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
anyone that talks to me that way gets the medical tounge lashing of their worst nightmare, which is designed to make them look like a complete dumbass. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">. regarding your nurse, i'd have some real fun with that situation <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">.</div>
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I'm with you. Good luck to the OP. I simply could not live with teachers, doctors, nurses, etc. thinking they have that kind of say in my or my kid's life.
 

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You need to stick up for yourself. Make it clear your and your kids diet is not up for discussion, and that you're the one raising them and doing a wonderful job.
 

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I'm a nanny for an 9-year old (omni) that brings a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to school for lunch nearly every day. No one bats an eye, but I bet if he was a vegetarian and that's what he was eating, it would suddenly raise a red flag <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/tongue3.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":p"> No meat? *gasp*<br><br>
You seem like a wonderful mom <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)"> I'm sorry it seems like everyone is against you; how frustrating. I LOVE Elaine's advice <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)"><br>
Hang in there, it will get better!
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>papayamon</strong> <a href="/forum/post/2876036"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
anyone that talks to me that way gets the medical tounge lashing of their worst nightmare, which is designed to make them look like a complete dumbass. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">. regarding your nurse, i'd have some real fun with that situation <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">.</div>
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What do you mean by 'that way'?<br><br>
All the nurse said was that she was concerned. i'm sure that a brief chat on the phone to the nurse would clear up any concerns in a civilized way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I actually talked to the nurse. She was really understanding. She said she was acting on the concern of Isaacs teacher and didnt really do investigating herself. She also said that usually when kids start bringing their own lunches they are usually pretty bad, sometimes nothing but chips and candy and sometimes the parents dont even know it is going on. She also said that there are a lot of parents in our school who dont know anything about nutrition and cant afford a school lunch price, that they pack bad food for their kids because its cheap and she usually contacts these parents to let them know that the school will offer free school lunches so at least they have something a little better than what they are bringing (our school doesnt do free and reduced lunch program). She said she has no idea which parents are which so she contacts them all.<br><br>
I told her that Isaac wants to experiment with being a vegetarian and that I was supporting him 100%. She told me she had seen his lunches and they are fine. (He had vegetable salad, cup of yogurt, whole wheat bread with fruit spread, milk and a pear). She said when she wrote me the note, she didnt realize Isaac was undertaking a full vegetarian diet, just that his teacher said he wasnt getting anything but veggies and beans every day and was concerned . Honestly, after our visit, I was appreciative of both their concern and their willingness to listen and learn. How many parents can say that the schools actually care what their kids are eating.
 

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That sounds great, Mackenzie <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)"> It's good to have the support of the nurse.<br><br>
(Concerning the teacher, nothing but beans and veggies? Like replacing the nice bean protein with fatty, cholesterine-packed meat protein would be better...)
 

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I'd find a veg friendly nutritionist and consult with them. Tell him or her what you are feeding your kids (which sounds fine to me, much better than junk food like hot dogs) If he or she agrees or has advice that you can adjust to just in case you are forgetting something then have him or her write a letter for your daycare/school nurse etc to say that your diet plan is healthy and your kids are fine eating veg.
 

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My kids are strict (no gelatin...so no marshmallows, lots of candy, most yogurt) ovo-lacto vegetarians and were below the 3rd percentile in height and weight when I adopted them from Russia. They are now young teenagers and are among the tallest in their classes, very athletic and honor roll students.<br><br>
They have maintained their diets through the pressure of peers (middle school in the redneck south), Boy Scouts (fish, stew), family and religion.<br><br>
We have been through the rigors and it is still working...if you have questions I would be glad to help any way I can.
 
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