Fall 2021 Tutoring

Dear Readers,

I hope you were able to enjoy some of those trademark summer activities you love, whether that means fishing, hiking, going on a special trip… For our family, summer often revolves around baseball games (for my son) and soccer (for my daughter). I love encouraging my kids in their sports and being outside, cheering them on. We also try to make the most of the long, warm days by spending time in the yard, taking our dog Sunny for as many walks as she wants (and she wants *a lot* of those). For me, it also means trying to enjoy a few date nights with my husband with the slightly slower pace of life that summer brings. And outdoor dining, of course.

A beautiful Monarch. I love all the butterflies this time of year!

September is here, however, and it is one of my favorite months of the year. It is still warm and mostly sunny in Minnesota, with the promise of crisp days and the fresh start of a new school year– even if we have long since finished school ourselves.

We found a new school for our children last year, and it proved to be a wonderful change for our family. It was a new start in many ways for our whole family during what was a challenging year for virtually everyone. My son and daughter are excited to return this fall, which has to be a good sign, right?

Fall also means homework and new classes and new teachers. Does your child need some extra, one-on-one reading and writing help? I’m scheduling my fall calendar now, so if you are interested in having your son or daughter work with me, please reach out sooner rather than later so I can fit in your family.

Current Availability (subject to change): Mondays-Thursdays, 9:30 a.m.-2:30p.m.

Where: In-person at my home or virtual, using Google Meet or Zoom.

FAQS: How long (and how often) are tutoring sessions? Usually 45-50 minutes, 1-2 times per week.

What do you tutor? Primarily reading (decoding and comprehension), often using the Wilson Reading System (Orton-Gillingham-based approach), along with my own teaching methods and style. I do not offer math tutoring at this time.

Do you require contracts? I have a Policies & Procedures letter that families are asked to read and sign. Contracts are not required, but in general, it is appreciated if families commit to 3-6 months at a time.

No shows” and cancellations with less than 24 hours notice are still charged, as it takes time and effort to plan for tutoring sessions, and that time slot has been reserved for your student.

How do families pay for tutoring? Most families pay per month using Venmo or Paypal.

More questions? Please send me an email or message me.

If you choose the virtual option and your child is attending school in person this year, I encourage you to inquire at your child’s school if there is a quiet space during the school day when he or she could meet with me. Perhaps during a study hall, a language class, or other specialist class (yes, while specialist classes are often wonderful, enriching, and important, they aren’t always as pressing as being a successful reader, in my opinion). I love fitting in tutoring during the school day for families– I have seen firsthand the stress it eliminates, as children are tired after school and often have other extracurriculars they want to participate in.

Please know I am happy to give my opinion as needed, for friends and family who have reading and/or learning disabilities questions. May you and your families have a blessed fall!

Happy reading,

Julia

Spring & Summer 2021

Well HELOOOOOO Spring!

At least, I *think* it’s spring here in Minnesota. The weather seems to have other plans– some days, it’s been beautiful outside, and full of warm, bright sun and blue sky, and then there are other days…where it begins to hail as I walk my dog around the trail.

April, however, brings with it fresh green grass and the buds on the trees. It brings hope and a sense of renewal.

I’m excited to get outside more, with my children and husband, our dog, and to just enjoy our yard and neighborhood.

Warmer weather also reminds me that it’s time to think about school coming to a close and summer tutoring starting up.

Would your child or teen (age 5-18) benefit from some extra, targeted, one-on-one instruction over the summer? Are you hoping to avoid the “summer slide,” and don’t want to lose so many of the gains he or she has made this year? And what a year it’s been. I think schools and families are doing the best they can, but I also think the constant changes throughout the year have likely negatively impacted learning, especially for students who find learning a challenge in the first place.

I love helping students of all ages begin to discover a love of reading. I love encouraging them and helping them build their confidence as they make strides in their reading, writing, and spelling. It is the BEST feeling when I see a student smile as they realize they “get something” that they didn’t understand at first. Then again, it may be an even better feeling when a student who has never chosen to read a book “for fun” before actually STARTS READING FOR FUN.

Please reach out if you are interested in talking more about what I plan to offer this summer for tutoring. I plan to schedule both virtual and in-person sessions at my home. Summer is less formal and needs to be flexible for all of us, as my children will be out of school as well. You and I can discuss what works best.

I typically recommend 1-2 sessions per week in the summer (2 sessions if your child needs significant reading help), at least 40 minutes in length, and up to 50 minutes. I charge far less than tutoring franchises and most schools to keep it affordable for families.

Happy spring to all of you and here’s hoping for a BLESSED summer!

~Julia

Making It Official

I graduated from University of Michigan with a English Literature degree and marched straight to graduate school at Harvard to earn my Master’s in Education. I knew in my gut I wanted to teach the subject I loved so much.

What took me my surprise was that my graduate classes inspired me to join the special education field. My path diverged slightly.

I was fortunate to find a job right after graduating where I had the opportunity to combine my two degrees: I taught high school English literature and writing to students with special needs, specifically learning disabilities and attention disorders.

Of course, this was no small task, despite what inspirational, high-budget movies suggest. Most students who struggle in a subject do not revel in going to that class– regardless of how enthusiastic their bright-eyed, ponytailed teacher is!

I adapted, stuck with it, and got in a groove. It felt good. I was making a difference, and I could see that difference with my eyes every single day. It was tiring and often draining, but I loved that job and gained incredible amounts of wisdom and experience there.

My refreshed new logo :: I think it perfectly captures both of my careers/passions.

Fast forward to 2010…the life-changing birth of my son! There was a short but unforgettable detour as I stayed home with him while he was little.

But then! I had the fortunate chance to take another slight detour when my sweet girl was born two years later. I stayed in the thick baby–and-toddler rearing for another couple of years. It was a crazy ride, but one I am grateful to have had.

Once my daughter was in preschool, I was ready to dust off my teaching hat. I had maintained my Minnesota teaching license (K-12 Learning Disabilities) during those foggy, busy, joyful early Motherhood years with the required continuing education credits. I took on 1-3 students at a time and so enjoyed getting back in the teaching-learning swing of things.

This brings us to 2021.

Maybe it’s the pandemic. Maybe it’s where I am in life. Maybe it’s the students I’ve worked with over the years. So many things converged and right around Christmas, I realized it was time to Make It Official.

I formed my LLC (Limited Liability Company) last week, and I feel invigorated and ready to devote more time to students who need reading help. Families are stretched thin right now, and I think I can help provide support.

I’m currently tutoring virtually only, which means I can work with students regardless of how close they live. The bonus is that parents have one less drive to make, and students can work in the comfort of their own homes.

I wish all of you a happy 2021! May you make this the year to tackle that “next” challenge you’ve been dreaming up for far too long.

~Julia

Julia Arnold Tutoring LLC

Meaningful Work & Slash Careers

For many reasons, I felt pretty stuck with my various jobs and career goals this fall. I was being pulled in so many directions– my copywriting work, my reading specialist/tutoring work, my freelance work. That’s on top of the work of parenting and being a mother.

Oh, and that’s on top of what feels like a never-ending worldwide pandemic.

I know I’m not alone here. I know that COVID has impacted just about everyone on the planet, some more intensely and horribly than than others.

But I kept plugging away, going through the motions, and at the very least, completing my assignments on time and meeting with the students who were on my schedule.

But something felt wrong. For most of my life, writing has been a passion. I’m rarely stumped or lacking creative inspiration, so the absence of the desire to write anything was worrisome to me. I hope it was a dry spell.

I think it was. I pray it was.

Because I recently did something that felt radical: I found my old (and yes, I do mean old– 10.5 years old to be exact) flash drive where I was (pretty) sure I had saved the final draft of the middle-grade novel I wrote more than a decade ago.

A decade ago means before I had kids, any kids. My son is now 10.5, and my daughter is 8. The feeling of an unfinished passion project that I had once worked so hard and diligently on had nagged at me for many, many years, though I was often so busy that my conscious self could ignore that very uncomfortable pull most days.

I happened to start reading Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection the week or so leading up to finding that flash drive. I give her a lot of credit for motivating and inspiring me to get up and get started again. She talks about meaningful work in her book and how “squandering our gifts brings distress to our lives.”

Ouch.

So very true, right?

That’s exactly what it felt like to ignore the desire– and dare I say– the calling I felt deep down to write and complete my book.

But wait. There’s plenty to hold me back from working on it again. I don’t get paid for it (or for anything) while I work on a book that may or may not ever be published. However, Brown also addresses this concern: “using our gifts and talent to create meaningful work takes a tremendous amount of commitment, because in many cases…it is not what pays the bills.” Amen!

She goes on to talk about the nasty “gremlins” who whisper in our ear, encouraging the self-doubt that lurks so painfully close under the surface.

In my experience, gremlins for writers might sound something like this:

“Who would want to read your work?”

“What gives you the big idea that you can produce anything that hasn’t already been done– and better?

“How can you give up time earning money/playing board games with your kids/cleaning your house/substitute teaching/tutoring more clients/grocery shopping/volunteering/etc. to indulge in a creative hobby [“hobby” said in a derisive tone]?”

“Isn’t it kind of lame that you’re using your Master’s degree to type away on your laptop for free when you could be out doing something in the world?”

Brown addresses the intensity of self-doubt, reminding us “no one can define what’s meaningful for us. Self-doubt,” she notes, “undermines the process of finding our gifts and sharing them with the world.”

So good, right?

My creative-type readers get it. I know they do. Maybe everyone reading, in some capacity, has felt those powerful gremlins encouraging them to doubt their goals, passions, or dreams?

The other issue I’ve had for years with my work is that I don’t just do ‘one thing.’ And, aha! Brown addresses that too!

(Side note: I couldn’t believe my eyes when I began reading her section about living in a culture that values the primacy of work. That we live in a society where we are expected to have one goal, one job, one career. That’s never been my experience. This can also stir up the gremlins within. Side, side note: If this sounds like you, and you’ve never watched the Ted Talk on being a “multipotentialite,” you owe it to yourself to find it.)

From full-time teacher, to stay-at-home mom, to part-time teacher and mom, to blogger/tutor/mom, to what I’d consider my current jobs and primary roles– writer/tutor/mom. There’s been a “slash” in my career description for almost as long as I’ve been an adult.

I LOVE that Brown says that when someone asks her what she does, it’s complicated and that “to be honest with you, I’m tired of choosing to make it easier on the person who asked.” Ha! Me too, Brene, me too.

How many times have I paused and not known how long of an answer someone really wanted to what seems to be such a simple question? (Many times, dear reader. Many, many times).

She goes on to introduce the work of Marci Alboher, an “author/speaker/coach.” YES! Someone else with a complicated, hard-to-explain career path.

She writes that Alboher “interviewed hundreds of people pursuing multiple careers simultaneously and discovered how slash careers” (like hers) “integrate and fully express the multiple passions, talents, and interests that a single career cannot accommodate.”

Let’s sit with that a moment…

This post is getting long, and I could write much more (hooray for inspiration!), but I will share one more quote Brown shares with her readers from theologian Howard Thurman, who has studied the importance of meaningful work. He says, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Refreshing, isn’t it? It’s actually almost counterintuitive to a culture that constantly tells us to save the world. But maybe to ‘save the world,’ we need to save ourselves first.

~Julia

Do any of my readers have “slash” careers? If so, I’d love to hear how you balance both. Please message me or find me on Facebook, where I am trying to make time to engage more despite, you know, all the “slash stuff” that keeps me busy :).

Happy Fall?

Hello!

How does this post find you today? Are you feeling renewed and energized with the approach of a crisp new season, or are you depleted and exhausted from the effects of the pandemic? Perhaps a bit of both? Life is more of a roller coaster than ever before, speaking for myself at least.

I never thought I’d live through a pandemic. It always seemed like something reserved for dramatic doctor shows like Grey’s Anatomy. The spring was especially tough for us, as my two children didn’t get to return to school after spring break. All the sudden, like so many people around the world, we were all just HOME.

Thank goodness it was starting to warm up here in Minnesota at that time. Our dog got us outside every day, rain, sleet, or shine, which was a lifesaver.

My “writing for fun” took a long hiatus, as I was quickly forced into survival mode: focusing on caring for my kids, getting my copywriting assignments completed on time, converting all of my school-year tutoring sessions to online conferencing…and of course taking care of a house, our pets, and everything else we humans must do to function on a daily basis.

All this said, I am grateful that my children were able to get out and play sports again this summer with other children, and that I managed to work as I was able. Baseball for my son and soccer for my daughter became crucial for our family’s mental, emotional, and physical health.

Baseball 2020. What a gift!

Unbelievably enough, I’m coming up on my one-year ‘workaversary’ with Chewy.com, the pet website I started with last fall. It’s been an interesting ride to work for a large corporation and to be one tiny rung on a gigantic ladder, but it’s overall been a good fit for my interests and skills.

Hooray for my almost work-a-versary with Chewy!

I’ve also enjoyed receiving the last several months of VHD (Versatile Hunting Dog) magazine in the mail, published by NAVHDA, where they’ve released articles I’ve written each month featuring a female dog handler and/or trainer.

I also have an exciting article coming up in the magazine Young Rider, about a talented female writer. Stay tuned!

I wish all of my readers the best this fall. I truly hope that the pandemic dies out as soon as possible, and we can all move forward with a renewed sense of energy, gratitude, and joy.

~Julia

Women & Their Dogs

There’s always a lot out there about men and their dogs, and we’ve all heard the common and much-loved saying, “a boy and his dog.” What about the girls? We love our pups just as much as the next guy.

I can prove it.

In previous posts, I mentioned a labor of love I took on pro bono for the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA). It was a lot of work, but I’m really pleased with the final result: each month, the organization is publishing one of my articles in their very nicely-done magazine. Each of my articles features a woman and her hunting dog at various stages in their NAVHDA training journey. Sharing these stories is a way I can give back to a uniquely fantastic non-profit that benefits so many people– boys, girls, young, old.

It’s an organization that brings people of all walks of life together– people who share a common interest. And while hunting may be at the core of it for some folks, for me it’s about the dogs. It’s about being with other animal and nature lovers. It’s about meeting someone I never would have met otherwise.

Here are a few of my recent pieces (find them in their entirety on NAVHDA’s website– click on VHD Library). I hope they inspire you to commit to a new goal, or to try something new. Something outside of your comfort zone.

 

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That’s me, in the top photo, with my own little versatile hunting dog– my inspiration, my MUSE for this project :).

 

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Stacy Horse Article 1st pageStacy Horst Article 2nd page

 

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Gotta love a fellow Small Munsterlander-lover!

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Tune in. There’s more to come!

~Julia

February 2020 Updates

This is the time of year when things start looking up again. January is my least favorite month– let’s not sugar coat things. It’s dark. It’s cold. The holidays are over, and winter is stretched out before us for miles and miles.

Once February hits, however, we have a glimmer of hope. January is behind us. The days get longer and maybe just a little warmer. I especially look forward to longer evenings and a later sunset. Each day we get a few more precious minutes of daylight.

Earlier this winter I entered into the busiest stage of my life (yet). I began working a second job that, when added to my teaching position, made for a full-time work schedule. On top of raising two young children, caring for a puppy, (and a house and all that entails)– whew! It was a big adjustment.

But one I’m finding a rhythm with now.

I do miss having the bits of free time now and then to write ‘just for fun,’ but I trust those will come again. In the meantime, it’s been interesting to start my copywriting job with Chewy.com, the gigantic pet supply website you’ve probably seen commercials about if you don’t already have pets and shop there.

Teaching twice a week in a school setting has been invigorating too. It frees up weekends and evenings to help care for (and chauffeur) my kids to various activities, squeeze in extra writing work, take Sunny on walks, and to enjoy those rare evenings where we are all home at one time.

Oh, and how the world turns: Sunny the Pup? She turns one today. What a game changer she’s been. She has brought me along with her to countless new, unexpected experiences, from a Pheasant Fest convention to hunt training nights on a farm to a crazy-fun puppy agility class– none of which I would have done without her.

Animals enrich our lives in countless ways, and I’m still honored every time I get to write about it.

In the most recent edition of North Oaks Living, I got to write about a good friend of mine and the dog they adopted as a puppy (the one they thought was a lab but turns out to be part Great Dane). He’s now like a brother to my friend’s girls, and it was a special one to write.

I also have a cool project coming out soon in the next few issues of VHD Magazine (the North American Versatile Hunting Dog publication), featuring women from around North America who train and hunt with their dogs. It was a huge (HUGE) effort and one I’ll be happy to share with readers soon.

In the meantime, next time you’re shopping on Chewy, I might have been the one who wrote that dazzling product description for the item you’re adding to your cart…

~Julia

Fall 2019 Updates (hint: dogs, dogs, dogs!)

 

I love fall. It is, in my opinion, the most beautiful of all the seasons due to the incredible red, gold, and orange leaves filling the trees with a bright blue sky backdrop. Add to that the crisp air! The crunch of leaves underfoot! The start of school! Ah, it’s just a great season.

Plus, October is my husband’s birthday month, and our wedding anniversary month. And who doesn’t love Halloween to cap it off?

I’ve been busy getting ensconced with my new reading specialist job two days per week, and using the other days at home to write, take care of the house and pets, and do… all the other things required in life.

Here’s one fun article I had to chance to write recently for North Oaks Living Magazine. It highlights some of our great neighbor and their wonderful pets and nature projects!

 

I was also asked to write a blog post for the Minnesota Chapter of NAVHDA (North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association), which my family joined after getting our first versatile dog, Sunny, last spring.

Check out the article, here. The dinner I write about, as well as the other NAVHDA activities I participate in, are an example of how we can open up our comfortable little worlds by trying new things and meeting new people.

Of course, Sunny, our now 8 month old pup, continues to inspire me, so I had to write an article for the Fall 2019 issue of Munster Tales, the seasonal newsletter for Small Munsterlander Club of America members and enthusiasts.

 

 

One other special pup I shone the spotlight on in a recent magazine article is Rosie, a rescue dog who now has a happy and posh life with her four totally pawsome hoomans.

 

 

I have a few other writing projects in the works; I can’t wait to share them with you once they hit the press!

In the meantime, I wish all of my wonderful readers the happiest of falls and happiest of Halloweens!

~Julia

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Art Imitates Life and so on and so forth

If you had told me when I was 25 that I’d be more excited to write an article for a hunting magazine than a fashion one, I would’ve guffawed [as my son would say; he loves that word].

Have you heard the theory about how every ten years or so we can expect our careers to take entirely new directions? For me, it rings true, and I couldn’t have predicted the exact path I would take.

10 years ago, I was teaching high school English full time to students with various learning disabilities. Over time, I’ll just say it– I became good at it. With experience, passion, and dedication comes success, right?

But then I had my son, my very first baby, followed soon after by my daughter, and in the chaos & enormity of new motherhood, I took time off from teaching to be a stay-at-home mother. {and yes, for the record, it is absolutely a full-time job to be home caring for babies and toddlers all day long. It is an unpaid job that stay-at-home parents are expected to be “grateful for” at all times… but you should probably go visit my other site, Frantic Mama, to dig into all that}.

Thankfully, I found time to write in the small pockets of time I could manage.

I had always loved writing, and by starting my blog, Frantic Mama, I found a niche in the parenting/humor world. Blogging was a fantastic outlet during those crazy long days (and nights). I developed my voice, honed my writing skills, learned about social media, and gained a loyal following. Frantic Mama was a gift to myself and hopefully to the many new mothers out there who could relate to the very real, very unglamorous side of parenting I wrote about.

I soon started pushing myself to publish my work outside of my own blog, and that was a great experience too– turns out, there was a demand for moms writing about the real side of parenting. Not the Martha Stewart sh*t!

Slowly, writing became a professional pursuit for me, and it has since turned into a career for me.

Side Note: People often ask “how do you become a writer?” and it’s a huge concept with a somewhat simple answer: You start. You work. You write. You submit. You get rejected and you get accepted. Repeat. Nothing magical happens overnight for 99% of us. So my answer to aspiring writers is always the same, and I have to tell you, so few like my answer because it’s not a shortcut, but here it is: Start a blog. Try not to think about who reads it. Develop your voice. Keep at it. 

Anyhoo… With the addition of my one-on-one tutoring over time (because I missed teaching and I knew I had the skills to help kids learn to read), I found myself working almost whenever I wasn’t taking care of my children.

How, you ask? Many think because my car is in the garage, I’m home doing, well, I don’t know. What do people do?

To have two part-time jobs and virtually zero child care except preschool and now (thankfully) school, I’ve worked 7 days a week. Not 12 hours in a row each day of course, but within almost every single day for the last few years, I’ve found time to write or tutor. Add in childcare, and well, I’m pretty much always working [laugh cry laugh cry].

Life is good that way, though. The harder I work, the richer life is. At least, for me it usually feels that way. I start to feel very unhappy if I’m not inspired to write.

This is what I begin to look like when I haven’t written anything for a few days:

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Yeah, that’d be Debbie Downer.

This year, I’ll be an in-house tutor at a small local school twice a week, so kinda sorta back in the classroom (are careers on a cyclical cycle for some of us?), and of course, a writer through and through the rest of the week, whenever I can have a peek at my trusty laptop. Does that mean fewer/less this or that? Yes! Of course it does. We must actively make room for our goals. Not everything gets 100% of us.

I’ll leave you with what I started with: a piece I wrote about stepping out of my comfort zone right along with my son, and our Sunny Girl pup. Yes, it’s a hunting magazine. And no, I don’t think there’s another place I’d rather see the piece than in this one.

 

September 2019, VHD (Versatile Hunting Dog) Magazine, published by NAVHDA (North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association).

Read the whole article, here.

 

How the world turns! What will I be doing in another 10 years? What will you be doing? 

~Julia

End-of-Summer Publications

Happy end-of-summer, everyone!

It is happy, isn’t it? I suppose the end of August always feels bittersweet to me, as I imagine it does for many. I love the summer weather and the chance to be outside as much as possible during the warm months in Minnesota, but I also look forward to the start of a new school year and new routines in the fall. Fall in Minnesota is also the most colorful, beautiful season, in my book.

Of course, fall also means my two young children head back to school, which is again, bittersweet. I know they’re ready to be with friends, old and new, and to learn and absorb All The Things. They are also happier with a regular routine and schedule, whether they know it or not. School gives me more time to write, which makes me a happier, more fulfilled person.

Alas, I am not a Pumpkin Spice Latte person, but there are some local pumpkin cookies that always get me in the fall spirit… so there’s that!

I recently had the opportunity to be published in what I’d call a “bucket list” magazine: EQUUS. It’s one of the most highly regarded equestrian and horse care publications, and as a writer it’s a huge honor to see my words in print in those glossy pages.

 

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My article is in the Summer 2019 issue.

EQUUS Article
My article features non-profit War Horses fo Veterans.

I’m especially proud that my article features a non-profit I fully stand behind, War Horses for Veterans.

You can read the article online too, at Hope in the Saddle, a website that shares all the good that horses do for us.

I’ve also been toiling away on an unusual story for The Morgan Horse Magazine; it’s taken on rather epic proportions, as the subject of the article doesn’t use a computer, has no cell phone, and is usually out of range in the mountains of Wyoming. It promises to be a good read, however, no matter how long it takes.

I offered to take on the “pets” section in my local lifestyle magazine, and it’s been a fun passion project– writing & animals are two of my favorite things, after all. My first article features a neighborhood family with a lizard, a dog, and a cat (my kind of people!).

 

Tutoring Updates

My tutoring business will change this school year: instead of working privately outside of school hours with families, I will be working in a local St. Paul school two times a week, providing intensive reading instruction during the school day to students with learning disabilities like Dyslexia.

I think this new model is such a win for students– they get to receive that one-on-one help during the school day, rather than when they’re tired and busy after school, or need a break on the weekends. I’m looking forward to this new challenge and helping more children gain confidence in their reading.

Fall, here we come!

In the meantime, I’m off to get one many of those pumpkin cookies. And my puppy sure is hoping to get a pheasant or two this fall. Let’s do this!

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Happy Fall,

~Julia